Today is the feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a 13th Century, Third Order Franciscan, and tireless advocate for the poor. After her husband (with whom she had three children) died, she embraced poverty and built a hospice where she cared for the sick. And all this before she died at age 24.

In this short quote, Elizabeth’s wisdom is evident. In 7 words, she reminds us of how easy the desire to love our neighbour can be derailed by what we have. It is a sobering idea that should awaken us to how easily our material possession and even our “possessing” non-material things (knowledge, power, fame, social standing and the like) can hold us back from loving fearlessly and generously.

In his encounter with the rich young ruler, Jesus reveals the truth behind the young ruler’s question that perhaps was missed when spoken to Jesus. “What must I do to *inherit* eternal life” he says. That one word, “inherit”, holds the key. For an inheritance to be gained, someone has to die. And in this case, it was himself dying to his possessions and himself (ie his ego). From his reaction, he was neither expecting this response, nor does he seem to like it!

The rich young ruler goes away sad, we are told, “for he had many possessions”. Let me be clear: possessions in and of themselves are not bad, but our tendency to let them get in the way means that if we are not careful, we can find ourselves preoccupied with their use, their upkeep, and their upgrading. All of this takes way time and money that could be spent loving our neighbour.

So may we find freedom from being consumed by that which we consume. And may we be bold enough to work towards becoming unshackled from what we possess so that we can be liberated to love with no restraint, fearlessly and generously.

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