Daily Reflection – 8/19/19
A young man approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. ( Matthew 19:16-22)
Ask yourself: how would you respond if Jesus asked you (and me) to sell all that we own and give it to the people in need? Would we have the inner freedom to dispossess ourselves of everything that we own? For most of us, this might seem impossible to do.
Yet if we truly wish to follow Jesus, he desires that we give our all to him. It may not mean dispossessing ourselves of everything we own. However, it most likely will require changes in our lives and in our priorities. These changes may be very stretching for us and require sacrifice. Are we truly willing to make difficult decisions and to change our lives and our lifestyle to follow Jesus?
To get to heaven, and everybody should really want to, one thing is totally necessary: “Keep the commandments”. That means to avoid sin. God’s love for us precedes the commandments. When we love someone, we do not treat that person in any old way, but rather in a way that reflects the love we have for that person. So, we keep the commandments not just to follow a moral code, but to show in a specific way our love for God. This step is very important, but it is only a first step to heaven.
The rich young man had no trouble with living the commandments. Feeling confident, he asks for more, and Christ asks him to leave his possessions. He wasn’t expecting this. He went away sad, because he had many possessions. The problem is not having possessions, but that having many possessions makes us more preoccupied with material things than with “things of above”, as St. Paul would say (see Colossians 3:1). In the Gospel, Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).
The reality is: following Jesus is not always an easy or strife-free path. At times, doing what Jesus would do stretches us far beyond our comfort zone. Will we gladly follow Jesus? Or will we turn away sad and dismayed because we are not willing to sell all we have, leave home and family to follow Jesus?
Today Jesus is asking you and me to follow him. How will we respond to him? Will we gladly follow him? Or will we walk away sad and disheartened? It is our choice!
Prayer of The Day
Dear Lord, help me to love you above all things. I realize that I am attached to things that sometimes lead me to forget you. And yet, I can’t avoid hearing in the depths of my soul your words: “You cannot serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). Help me understand that it is not worthwhile to have many things, but not have you.
Jesus helps the young man, and us, turn the question around: “What do I lack?” becomes, “What do I have too much of?” When we know what we have too much of, we know what possesses us. We discover the limits of our freedom. We discover what our desires really are. Ignatius of Loyola says, “Love expresses itself in deeds more than in words.”