Jesus and the rich man
AS Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.” He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.”
REFLECTION AN INVITATION TO “MAXIMUM LOVE.” The young man who has “many possessions” thinks he is blest and so enthusiastically approaches Jesus, asking what he must do to gain eternal life. He hopes perhaps to get an affirmation that, blessed by God, he need not do extraordinary things because he has already followed the Ten Commandments from childhood. What he hears from Jesus is a “shocker”: he is invited to sell his possessions, give to the poor, and follow Jesus.
Jesus does not ask this of every follower. It is because, looking at the earnest young man, Jesus “loved him.” Love for him makes Jesus reveal to him the secret of the Kingdom, the key to true joy and lasting peace. So Jesus asks him to make a radical choice to love, one that does not know of accommodation and compromise. The young man, however, fails to measure up to the greatest challenge of his life. His wealth, instead of being a blessing, becomes a stumbling block to his gaining eternal life.
Jesus has been clear about discipleship from the beginning: it is a dying to self, a carrying of the cross after Jesus. Salvation is not “cheap grace.” Eternal life is not gained the easy way. The young man does not steal because he has more than enough. Compared to the less fortunate, he has all the reasons to follow the commandments because he “owes” it to God for blessing him. But the case of give-and-take is beside the issue. It is rather the choice between the Kingdom of God and money. “No servant can serve two masters,” Jesus says. “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Lk 16:13). Once money becomes the most important thing, the person is already worshipping it as his “god.”
In the story of the young man, Jesus defines discipleship not as a masochistic scorn for material goods but as a life of “maximum love.” The “culture” of the Kingdom, revealed by this discipleship, has much to say to a world bedeviled by materialism. Riches signify so many things: proud self-sufficiency, the supremacy of the law of profit over that of morality, the utter inequality in the use of the earth’s goods, the search for pleasure and vanity.
But all these are empty, all vanity! True joy can come only with love that continually gives more, even to the max.
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.