Matthew 19: 16-26
A person accidentally slipped and fell of a cliff. On the way down he grabbed hold of the branch of a tree and remained suspended there. He started praying as he had never prayed before: “Lord, save me! Lord, Lord!” Suddenly the Lord answered, “Yes?” The man pleaded, “Save me, Lord!”
“Have you attended Church?” asked the Lord.
“Yes, I did whenever I could, but I promise never to miss if You will save me.”
“Have you kept the ten commandments?”
“Yes, as much as I could. I promise to obey them to the letter if You will save me.”
“Have you said your prayers every day?”
“Yes, Lord, but just get me off the side of this cliff and I’ll be the best praying man in the world.”
“Have you given generously to the work of my Church?”
“Yes, I think I have, but I’ll give even more generously in the future. Just get me off the side of this cliff.”
“Do you trust Me?”
“Yes, Lord, of course I trust You — completely.”
“Then let go the branch.”
Let go the man-made crutches you hold onto. Replace them with a tight grip on God. Let go the sin that has possessed you. It seems that we become so accustomed to our sins that we feel comfortable with them and refuse to let go.
Let go that hatred. How many times have we heard people say, “I’ll do anything for You, Lord, but just don’t ask me to forgive so-and-so.”
Let go that alcoholism. A short time ago there was a convention of Alcoholics Anonymous at the Leamington Hotel. Three thousand well-dressed, dignified persons attended the banquet — all of them former alcoholics. Those who had remained dry for one year were asked to stand up. Then two years, then three. A fellow priest who was there told me that it was the most inspiring sight he had ever seen. All of those people had been brought back from death to life because they had let go the branch, the bottle, and trusted God.
The rich young man in today’s Gospel lesson came to Jesus seeking eternal life. Knowing that his besetting sin was love of money, Jesus prescribed the remedy: “Sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” The Gospel says that “when he heard this he became sad, for he was very rich. Jesus looking at him said, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” In other words, how hard it is for those who become so attached to their riches, so enslaved to their material possessions, that they cannot let go because their possessions have become their god.
Like the young man in today’s Gospel lesson, how many there are today who want everything that Christ has to offer: forgiveness, peace, assurance of life eternal with God — but they don’t want to let go their false gods, their besetting sins.
So, the Lord asks us today:
“Do you trust Me?”
“Yes, Lord, we trust You.”
“Then let go,” He says. “Let go the demons, let go the death that is within you.”
We reply prayerfully,
“Lord, I let go trusting that You will bring me back to life.”
– Excerpts from the book “Gems from the Sunday and Feasts Gospels” By Anthony M. Coniaris
If you begin to guard wealth it will not be yours. But if you begin to distribute it, you will not lose it.
(St. Basil the Great, Conversations, 7)