28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
When the rich young man asked Jesus: “What must I do to gain eternal life?” The Lord started with the basic—the commandments! But it seemed that the young man wanted for more . . . he wanted to search for more. And the Lord said it simply: GO, SELL WHAT YOU HAVE AND GIVE IT TO THE POOR… as if to say: THERE IS SOMETHING MORE THAT YOU LACK—a completely different kind.
This is one of the saddest stories in the Gospel. A man whom Jesus loves rejects his invitation to discipleship. When the man asks: ‘what must I do to receive eternal life?’ he does not realize a call to discipleship would mean so much sacrifice.
Notice the PARADOX—even though the young man decided to retain his possessions, he went away SAD! He must have gained a deeper INSIGHT into life. No amount of money, prestige, power nor material possessions can ever satisfy a man. To pursue happiness in worldly possessions is fruitless and vain. St. Augustine realized this late in his life when he said, “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you!”
The gospel should move us to ask ourselves: What still prevents us from following Jesus? For some it may be an inordinate attachment to material possessions; for others, those possessions may not be material possessions. We may cling to an abiding sense of guilt, shame, fear, or self-righteousness, pride, prestige, desire for power and influence. Imprisoned by these possessions, we are not able to pursue higher goals.
The advice that Jesus gave to the rich young man is the bottom line of Christian life—GO BEYOND WHAT THE COMMANDMENTS REQUIRE!
Peter’s statement contrasts the disciples’ actions against that of the rich young man. “We have given up everything to follow you.” Their everything may not be money. It is whatever they cling to that is not God or of God: be it family, social status, behaviors.
Jesus lists the promised rewards, which are hundredfold more than the sacrifices of following him. Not only will his disciples receive eternal life, but in this life, they will receive as many houses, brothers and sisters, mothers, children, and lands . . . and persecutions as well (this indeed is an ironic added element of the rewards).
Reflections: Examine your life: wealth, health, relationships, behaviors, etc. Which helps you get closer to God. Which keeps you away from him?