You Cannot Have It All

October 14, 2012

Mark 10: 17-30

Today’s gospel is not about money. It’s about making choices. Yes, the man who comes up to Jesus has money. He has many possessions. But they are not his tragedy. His tragedy is thinking that he can choose everything. This man is already a good person. He follows all the commandments. He has resources by which he can accomplish many good things. But, what he wanted to do was simply add something more to the good things he already had: being a disciple of Jesus. Jesus says to him, “You can be my disciple. You can inherit eternal life. But first you have to let go of something you already have.” The man could not do this so he walks away sad. His failure is a reminder to us that we cannot have it all. In order to say yes to some things, we have to say no to others. Unless we are willing to pass on some very good things, we will not be able to attain the best things.

To say yes to the intimacy and support of marriage, we have to be willing to say no the freedom that the single life affords. In order to say yes to any man or woman to be our spouse, we have to be willing to say no to every other man and woman in the world. In order to say yes to a challenging job that would stretch us, we have to say no the comfort of an ordinary job that places few demands upon us. In order to say yes to a circle of friends that will support us our whole life long, we have to say no to many wonderful people for whom we do not have the time to develop relationships. We cannot have it all. This is why we must determine is what is most important in our life and then be willing to let go of those things which hold us back from attaining it.

Now this is not an easy movement. We could be overwhelmed like the Apostles in the gospel when they say, “Then who can be saved?” That’s why Jesus’ words are so important: “All things are possible for God.” When we have to let go of something we love for a higher purpose, when we have to say no to a good thing in order to attain something that is better, we might not have the strength to do that on our own. But we are not on our own. God is with us and all things are possible for God.

So, first we must look at our lives and discern what is really important. And then we must pray, “Lord, you have shown me what to do. Give me the strength to let go of whatever holds me back from choosing it. Show me how to say yes by learning to say no.”

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