Today’s Gospel has a man attached to his many possessions questioning Christ about what must be done to inherit eternal life. The man is shocked when Jesus says he must sell everything, give the money to the poor, and follow him. He leaves saddened by the exchange, unable to respond wholeheartedly to the invitation. We too must sometimes wonder who can be saved with such outrageous demands required.
Jesus responds that with God all things are possible. We cannot do the impossible. That belongs to God alone. All we can do is pray to God to ask the impossible. These months many of you have done that with and for me. With open hands, I went into surgery, not knowing if I would come out alive. The risks were many and the surgeon had been bluntly clear about them. Specialists deal with death more often then they would like and it is not a lack of compassion that does not cushion their words but rather a reality that jades them. I believe in a God of Impossibilities and I am grateful that I wake up each morning and want to follow Jesus.
I am not sure what lies ahead. My work right now is to be present to this traumatized body that is in need of Light and healing. When I walk further each day or am not winded when I walk up a flight of stairs, I know that the God of the Impossible is working miracles. When the pain subsides and I only need two painkillers instead of three in a day, I can rejoice. When what I have is appreciated but held with open hands, I am moving in the right direction of following Christ.
My body is dear to me and in this broken place I want to protect it. I have not had many visitors to limit germs and my energy. I am grateful to the many who are patient and thankful for each one who has come with my permission to spend time with me. Mortals value our bodies while at the same time have such odd ideas about them. Right now taking a deep breath is still uncomfortable for me but every time I do I know that I am alive. My incision has caused me some concern as it weeps in one spot but it is finally healing too. The medical staff who have seen it say it is beautiful. I hear that word and cringe ever so slightly as it seems to me to be unsightly. However, I stand in front of the mirror learning to love this body, bruised, cut, and poked. All these scars speak of survival. I want to do much more than survive. I want to thrive and to embrace as I always have this imperfect body as whole and beautiful.
A friend asked me about the size of my incision. My response since she could not see me on the phone was to say it was humungous. With the staples it was easy to track and therefore to show people the wound but now that the staples are out, I cannot reveal through touch alone the fancy squiggle that makes me giggle. I laugh because I am alive and whenever I see that mark, I will know that all things are possible with God. My body will still be beautiful to me because with the help of God and prayers from around the world, I have life. Many women might find it hard to embrace such a scar–hard as in that camel going through the eye of a needle in today’s Gospel–but my eyes are on the Great Physician who healed my body through a surgeon’s scalpel.
So many things keep us separated from God. The simple invitation to come and follow does not mean a life without sorrow or struggle once you commit to following Christ. Whether we cling to our possessions or our bodies or even our minds, God demands our all. The beautiful Ignatian prayer of Take and Receive comes into play here. You have given all to me, now I return it. God gave me this body and I will continue to serve the God of the Impossible until my last breath. I am much more than this shell. I know something that the man in the Gospel did not–the Generous One will provide for me. I have everything I need.