An Adventurous Life
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

One grade school student broke his leg during a school activity. His classmates dared him to jump from a second floor ledge to the ground. One classmate demonstrated how to do it and so he followed suit. He ended up in the hospital.

Action starter: What more can you be?

We have some adventurous spirit even from childhood. A toddler is fascinated by whatever moves, makes strange noises, or looks attractive. Teen-agers want to test the limits of their strength, social skills, and parental tolerance. Even middle-agers engage in imprudent adventurism to show off that they have not lost their youth. I know a senior citizen whose ultimate high is to test the speed limit of his racing motorcycle.

There is a sense of fulfillment in doing something new, something different, and something challenging. Some people are more adventurous and adrenalin-driven than others and they take up bungee jumping or sky-diving. Others are more sedate and they find adventure in cultivating a garden or observing the stars.

Good leaders know that a good challenge can awaken new energies among their followers. A challenging task or mission opens the road to adventure. The Gospel story this Sunday tells of such challenge. The rich young man in the story is a good man. He observes the commandments and he seeks eternal life, “Good Master, what must I do to have eternal life?” (Mk. 10:17). Jesus is so touched by his goodness that he looks at him with love. He sees in this young man a promising disciple. He wants him to belong to his inner circle and so he issues a challenge, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (v.21).

What happens next is one of the sad episodes in the gospel stories. “His face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions”(v. 22). One could almost feel the sadness of Jesus as he watched him walked away. Perhaps, if we have to speculate farther,as the young man grew older, he

became a solid citizen, a respected elder, and a benefactor of the synagogue. From time to time, he would hear of the adventures of the disciples of Jesus and he would tell his grandchildren, “I almost became one of them.”

His attachment to his wealth kept him away from the adventure of a lifetime. He would be living a normal, convenient, and comfortable life. No doubt, God would reward him for his goodness. But then, he would miss the camaraderie, the solidarity in suffering, the struggles, and the freedom of the disciples.

Life is an adventure. There are times of crises and times of stability. There are ups and downs. Growth comes with every critical period. We learn to walk, talk, and socialize. From dependence we learn to be independent and interdependent. Hopefully, as the years go by, we grow to be more mature and we move from self-absorption to self-sacrifice.

Whatever state of life we are in, when we meet the Lord in a more personal way, we are offered a challenge to grow in discipleship. A baptized Christian who thinks he is doing well by going to church on Christmas day and during Holy Week may be challenged to be more liturgically involved. A daily mass goer may be called to any of the ministries of the parish. A retired teacher may be called to be a catechist. A priest may feel called to foreign missions or a mountain parish. A teen-ager may want to join the church choir.

There is the story of Fr. Henri Nouwen who was a well-known author of many spiritual books and a professor at Harvard. Toward his senior years and before he died, he felt called to join a community of people with disabilities. He lived and served among them and there he discovered how it is to be loved for himself, as a person. Among these special people, his degrees, position, and academic reputation did not really matter much. His community members simply knew him as Henri, their friend. In his own simple way, he answered the call to be Jesus’ disciple.