What is our calling? Can we achieve it? Though we are not able to accomplish God’s will ourselves, it is possible for God.
The Gospel does not tell us whether the rich man came back and followed Christ. He was sad when Christ told him what discipleship would cost. We hope this man found a way to accept the teaching of Christ, though he had a lot to give up. Perhaps this means he had a lot to offer.
The call to compassion
Answering the call of Christ requires us to give all of ourselves. In one way or another, we are asked to take up the cross. Countless books, hours of thought and argument have gone into the philosophical and theological probing of the reality of pain. At some point, each of us finds we cannot explain suffering. When we are in pain or when someone we love is in pain, we are not sure we can even endure it.
At this place, our relationship with Christ is most real, most clear, and most poignant. God does not come to us to explain pain. God asks us to endure and sometimes even to embrace our pain. Jesus on the cross, in his agony, cries out in a way that reveals his total connection to our human suffering. (See Mk 15:34.) Christ knows our pain. And in Christ, we can embrace God’s answer: death is not the final word; Life is. Jesus’ passion reveals God’s compassion for us. Humbled on the cross, Jesus shows us what Saint Paul describes, “Love…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7).