God’s Punchline

IMG_6483By Felicia Schneiderhan

Today’s Gospel reading is like a joke I’ve heard over and over again. Every time I think I know what it’s about; every time I forget the punch line.

When the man comes up and asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” something inside me slumps. Yeah, yeah, I think, I’ve heard it before. It’s not enough that we follow the commandments; we’re supposed to give away everything we own and follow Jesus. Right away I bristle, because I’m just like the man. I like my possessions, and if faced with living comfortably in my house or following Jesus into the desert, you can be pretty sure which one I’d pick.

Like the man, face fallen, I’m always ready to turn away from this Gospel.

And every time, the punch line catches me before I go.

The punch line, in my opinion, occurs in the one-two knock-out when the disciples ask what we’re all thinking: “Then who can be saved?” To which Jesus, with his perfect turn-on-a-dime timing, replies: “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”

Immediately, I am filled with relief. Maybe I am weak and flawed and self-centered, but my defects do not prevent God from inviting me to His party.

Today’s Gospel pretty much sums up the little jokes that occur in my everyday life. I think I’m supposed to figure out how to move to another state; I try and try and fail miserably; I pray and give it up to God and voila! – things come through. I want to find the perfect job; I send out resume after resume and beat my head against the wall; I pray and give it up to God and voila! – things pan out. Every day I’m faced with some task – sometimes minute, sometimes mountainous – and every time I think I’m “supposed to” figure out how to do it. I fail. I get frustrated. I beat myself up. And then I remember: there’s someone bigger than me who’s got my back, who sees the big picture, who knows how to run the show.

What a relief to know I don’t have to do the impossible – when I remember the punch line.

Felicia Schneiderhan is a Duluth-based writer and a contributor to From the Pews in the Back.

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