Monday, May 23, 2016

Mark 10:21-22 (NRSV): Disordered Affections

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

This rich man runs up to Jesus asking what he can do to receive eternal life, for he has already been a follower of the Ten Commandments since his youth. This rich man seeks to do something comfortable to achieve eternal life. But when Jesus calls him out and tells him to renounce his disordered attachments, in this case possessions, the man grieves and goes away, leaving behind God’s will for a fabricated, false will of his own.

Disordered attachments are dangerous in our relationship with Jesus and can silence his grace in our hearts.  The New York Times bestselling author Jim Martin writes about the dangers of disordered attachments in his book The Jesuit Guide to Almost Anything:
“Disordered affections” is [Ignatius of Loyola's] way of describing whatever keeps us from being free. When Ignatius says that we should be “detached,” he’s talking about not being tied down by unimportant things. Here’s a quick example. What happens if your overriding concern in life is making money? Well, in that case you might not be as open to spending time with people who won’t advance your career. You might be less likely to take time off. You might even begin to see other people only as tools—or worse, obstacles—in your quest for upward mobility. Gradually, you might start to see everything as revolving around your job, career, and desire to make money. Now, work is part of everyone’s vocation in life. But if, over time, you find yourself sacrificing everything else to that one end, you might discover that work has become a kind of “god” for you. When people ask me whether anyone could ever break the first commandment (“You shall have no other gods before me.”) I often say that while few people today believe in multiple gods, as in the past, many more may believe in newer “gods.” For some people their “god” is career. Or money. Or status. (9-10)

If we look deeply into our lives and listen to the Spirit of God, we notice that Christ calls us to live lives of love and self-giving, with our only attachments being healthy and related to God’s will in our lives.

At the end of this discourse, Jesus answers that human beings cannot save themselves, for the rich man wants to do something other than severing his disordered attachments. With God, however, are all things possible (Mark 10:26-27). When we submit our self will to God and detach from the disordered things in our lives, we enter into a world of peace and transformation, avoiding the stress, darkness, and grief of the rich man.

May the peace and love of Christ be with you all.