The Word Among Us

Mass Reading & Meditation for August 20, 2018

Meditation: Matthew 19:16-22

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Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)

If you wish to be perfect . . . (Matthew 19:21)

Many children dream of being an Olympic athlete. But that dream can’t become a reality without a lot of hard work. Each day, the athlete has to wake up devoted to the exercise, diet, and mental training required to reach his or her Olympic dream. It requires an incredible amount of time, effort, and sacrifice—a single-minded dedication to do what it takes to meet the goal.

If qualifying for the Olympics requires such a commitment, how much more do our spiritual lives? The rich young man in today’s reading wants to know what he needs to do to make it to heaven. But when Jesus speaks to him about single-minded devotion to God’s kingdom, he walks away dejectedly because he feels the sacrifice is too great.

We know we can’t work our way into heaven. But we do need to be single-minded in following Jesus. What does this mean? The dictionary defines single-minded as “having one driving purpose or resolve.” Our purpose, our dream, is to be like Christ. And that requires resolve to focus our thoughts, words, and actions—even our relationships and the way we spend our time—towards this ideal of becoming like Christ.

Each of us has a different path to get us to our goal of becoming like Christ. That means that each of us needs to develop our own “training program.” Of course, there are the obvious things: exercise (prayer and reading the Scriptures) and diet (receiving the sacraments). Other things might stem from what you know about your weaknesses or the gifts and virtues you’re trying to develop. Maybe when people around you are gossiping, you need to remove yourself from the situation. Or maybe you strive to set aside some of your paycheck each month to give to charity.

It takes effort to deny ourselves, but the good news is that the more you do it, the easier it becomes. The closer you are to your goal, the more enthusiasm you’ll have to do what it takes to go even farther.

So resolve to be single-minded for Jesus today. You might not be an Olympic hopeful, but you can think of today as the first day of your “training”!

“Jesus, you are the prize that I seek. Help me to be single-minded in following you.”

Ezekiel 24:15-23
(Psalm) Deuteronomy 32:18-21

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