I mentioned last Sunday that we are watching Fr. Robert Barron's series on conversion with a group of folks after Mass on Sundays. This morning's talk was on Mark 10:17-31, the story of the rich young man who went away sad because the Lord told him to sell all he had and give the money to the poor and then follow. Almost every time I have heard a homily on this text--well, every time--the priest has talked about the young man as though he made the wrong decision. They seem to be assuming that since the young man went away sad, he had chosen not to follow Christ. But we don't know, and thank goodness Fr. Barron said that we don't know.
One thing I do know is that when the Lord asks me to give up something that means a lot to me, I am sad. I will do it, although sometimes I take my own sweet time about doing it, but that doesn't mean I'm not sad. I'm not talking about things that are sinful, but things that are good in themselves. Objectively, it's hard sometimes to understand why you should give them up, but the fact that He asks is reason enough. And the fact that it's an objectively good thing is reason enough to be sad. But sadness doesn't imply disobedience or even unwillingness.
I also know that once that young man walked away, he may have chosen not to give up his riches, but he never could have looked at them in the same way again. Once the Lord has asked us for something, He has asked, and since His word never returns to Him void, the request is never withdrawn (or if it is, I think we are in quite a lot of trouble). You may be able to keep from thinking about it for a while, but when you have a quiet moment, He's always there. I always get the sense that He's just looking at me, and that look gets to be quite a burden after a while, and whatever I'm supposed to be giving up gets to be an even bigger burden. So, I hope that the rich young man eventually gave in.