A new company is marketing a new energy drink, they offer a blind taste test. The competition would be Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar. I know myself, my energy drink of preference would probably not be any of these three, but on “taste,” a mere first impression of the substance could change those results. Red Bull tastes like medicine, and the other two are a somewhat tolerable sugar medicine flavor. The company finds a way to boost their own performance, as a result, simply because of that apparent taste weakness. But at least energy drinks offer POWER right?
Well, they never were capable of getting the majority that they wanted, but were able to film a small handful of people who said that they preferred their product.
I suppose the real question I ask myself when I grab an energy drink is, will this give me energy? Maybe flavor is not the first thing I think about. Is the B-Vitamin content sufficient, or is there even some C-Vitamins too? Will this last me through a few classes, or an all nighter, or a good party? I wont get heart palpitations will I? And of course do they have a low-carb alternative without poisonous aspartame?
Of course, I typically cannot find my preferred energy drink in the supermarket any more. There is typically a large selection, too large a selection of energy drinks. There is not just Monster Lo-Carb, but there is Monster Java. There is Rockstar with Fruit Punch, Orange Juice, Pomegranate. Maybe those are the most flavorful…
But it does not seem so different with much else in life. There is a million choices in just about every area. There are about a dozen different pcs (unless you choose Mac, its just Mac). There are several Vampire romance novels and television shows, just enough gossip magazines. Its hard to find a can of chicken noodles soup, after you look for Italian Wedding, Chicken Wild Rice, Tomato Basil, Garlic Potato, and my favorite Tortilla soup.
Its no longer just myspace, but theres also friendster, linkedin, twitter and facebook.
And religion is not too much different, there choices are so vast, why not let us choose them all. How about our life career? In college, I am sure you will hardly have the time to browse all booths and opportunities. There are perhaps fifteen clubs or bars you can spend your paycheck on with a selection of twenty mixed drinks, thirty wines, and forty beers.
What does all that choice to do us? Does it make us more powerful? Having all these options? Does drinking all these energy drinks really give us any power?
The Gospel reading today offers a different vision of “Choice.” A rich young man, with plenty of opportunities, the opportunities that money would have afforded him, the power over and above others, a rich young man approaches Jesus to ask what must he do to get into heaven.
Jesus lists the commandments, and the rich young man is not very satisfied.
If I were to stand here, and tell you that you do a couple of nice things, and suddenly you find yourself quite proud that you have the magic touch to get into heaven. However, Jesus, when called “Good” by the rich young man, defers this goodness to God above, Most High. The trouble with us Catholics, practicing, and non-practicing, is that we are quite proud of how good and decent we are. We think ourselves so good in all our choices. But what good are we doing ourselves by making so many choices for ourselves. What good that does for us, if not perpetuate that illusion of how much power we have, when really we have none. How will we make the world a better place because there are fifteen different types of sandwhiches, ten types of bread, and eight types of special sauce to choose from? How do we make the world a better place when people outside are cold and starving. How can we claim to have power, power to choose a guy or girl to sleep with? How can we claim this power, when such a recklessness has left some people empty, left others with STDs? How can we claim such a power when people overpower the weak to manipulate them sexually? How powerful are we, when this is the only drive we have? What good is it doing the world, or ourselves to have all these choices?
When the rich young man in today’s Gospel is not pleased, Jesus offers him the real “choice,” one too challenging, one that he gives us even today.
Will you follow me?
In the face of this choice, we no longer have the ability to claim that we are good in ourselves. Jesus is not interested in our goodness, he is interested here in our offering. In our total self offering, the offering of totality that mirrors his own offering, a gift to us. Go sell all you have.
The rich young man ran away, sad because of his many possessions. He may have opportunities, and choices, but he has no power, because he really has no freedom.
Jesus is not asking us to be powerful, or to show off our multiple tastes, and choices, our knowledge of energy drinks, our blog or facebook pages, our boyfriends or girlfriends, he only wants a our hearts. It is when we can begin to give our hearts as a gift to him, that we can begin to understand how we need to give ourselves in love in marriage. It is when we can give ourselves in service to Christ, that we can serve Christ who is naked, hungry, in prison and abandoned. Can we make that choice? Is there perhaps a power in this freedom, the freedom to give generously, a power that no energy drink has, that can enable us to do so? If not, I challenge you to ask yourself how free you really are?
I Will Choose Christ, by Tom Booth
I will choose Christ, I will choose love, I choose to serve.
I give my heart, I give my life, I give my all to you.
How many times must he call my name and show to me that he is God?
And as a servant he calls to me, “You must serve too.”
Christ, my teacher and healer, teach my heart and heal my soul.
And as I walk this road with you, teach me to love.
As I look upon your cross, so too must I die with you.
And with the death of my own desires, I’ll rise with you.