State and local governments put limits on how fast we can drive our cars. We see those speed limits prominently posted on signs along every road.
Unions put limits on the hours their members can work and what their employers can require them to do.
Fire regulations, as well as restrictions imposed during the current pandemic, limit the number of people allowed in public places and sometimes limit attendance only to the vaccinated.
But outside agencies are not the only ones who put limits on us. We also put them on ourselves.
For example, if we are attempting to lose weight, we will try to limit when, what, and how much we eat. If we want to improve our relationship with our family, we will limit the hours we give to work.
In this Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 10:17-30), we learn of a man who put limits on his relationship with God. When the man asked Jesus, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus told him to keep the commandments. The man had no problem with that. In fact, he proudly told Jesus, "Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth."
Recognizing his sincerity, Jesus then revealed a further step the man could take in his relationship with God. “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."
That answer was not what the man expected and “he went away sad for he had many possessions”.
To do what Jesus asked was beyond what he was willing to do in his spiritual life. He would obey the commandments, but he would not let go of his wealth and possessions. That was beyond his limits.
We can be like that man. We can limit our response to what God asks of us. We can decide to only go so far in responding to the demands of the Gospel and in following the example of Jesus.
Jesus tells us to forgive our enemies, to do good to those who hurt us. But instead of doing so, we can place certain people beyond the limits of our mercy.
Jesus calls us to give praise to our Father in heaven, to spend time in prayer. But instead of doing so, we can limit our conversation with God to a quick Our Father or to Mass on Sunday, and sometimes not even that.
Jesus sends us forth to brighten the world with the light of our faith. But instead of doing so, we can limit those places where we are willing to let our faith in Christ shine forth.
Jesus teaches us to care for those in need. But instead of doing so, we can freely spend on ourselves, and then place limits on our generosity.
Jesus proclaims that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, and strength. But instead of letting our love for God impact every part of our lives, we can limit where we allow God to guide our decisions and behavior.
This Sunday we are challenged to ask ourselves if, like the rich man of the Gospel, we have put limits on how far we are willing to go in our relationship with God.
Perhaps the speed limit signs we see along the road may motivate us to think about the “speed limits” we have placed on our own relationship with Christ.
© 2021 Rev. Thomas B. Iwanowski