Today’s gospel follows right after the story of the rich young man who went away sad when Jesus told him to sell what he had and give it to the poor, and then come and follow me.

For almost forty years, until he died, I had a wealthy friend.  This man was a renowned orthopedic surgeon in Boston.  He used to ask me:  “Why is Jesus so hard on wealthy people?  I’m a good husband and father. I am generous to my Jesuit alma mater, and I am on the Cardinal’s ‘Hit List’ of wealthy donors.  I use my wealth responsibly.”

It took many conversations, but one day we clicked on what Ignatius says in the Spiritual Exercises [#136-148].  In the meditation on the Two Standards/Strategies: Satan seduces people from riches to power to pride, whereas Jesus urges poverty to powerlessness to humility.  He rejoiced at this and said: “So, Jesus really loves me, and he is hard on the wealthy, because he is worried for them.”  Yes!

Where is Jesus inviting me today?  And how do I respond?

—Fr. Robert Braunreuther, S.J. of the New England province serves in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago, where he is also the minister at the Arrupe House Jesuit community.