Go, sell what you have . . . ; then come, follow me. 

Have you ever heard the phrase “Hold your dreams loosely”?   Dreams can be a wonderful gift from God.   Many times they spring from talents you have or your desires to help the people around you.   But clinging to them too tightly can keep you from accomplishing the plans God has in store for you.

St. Ignatius of Loyola learned this lesson the hard way.   As a young soldier, he dreamed of attaining glory on the battlefield. But after being severely injured in battle, he ended up confined to bed for months of rehabilitation.   Being sidelined like this, he struggled with the direction his life was taking, and he ultimately decided to let go of his dreams for glory.   His detachment helped him hear God’s call and start down a new path.

For Ignatius, leaving the excitement of military conquests wasn’t a defeat.   It was a transition.   It opened the way for him to found a religious order that has drawn countless people closer to Jesus.

The rich young man in today’s Gospel could have learned something from Ignatius.   His wealth wasn’t his real problem; it was his rigid attachment to it and to his dreams about all he could accomplish with it.   That’s why Jesus called him to sell his possessions and give to the poor before following him.   If he had held his riches with an open hand, he would have found it easier to let them go.

It’s all about flexibility. Jesus wasn’t condemning the young man for his riches; material wealth can be a blessing from God.   Besides, most of us aren’t called to literally renounce everything.   But if there is something that we are holding so tightly that we can’t ever imagine life without it, we need to learn to relax our grip.   As we do, we will become more free to accept whatever calling, gifts, or even challenges, that the Lord sends our way.

Picture yourself as this rich young man.   You, too, have blessings and dreams.   How are you using them?   How can you be a little more flexible with them?   Remember, your dreams aren’t necessarily bad, and your possessions aren’t inherently evil.   They just aren’t as valuable or wonderful as the dreams that Jesus has for you.

word among us