Paradox of Wealth

Matthew 19: 16-22
Ezek 24: 15-23 / Dt 32: 18-21

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.
(Matthew 19:21 )

So much poverty everywhere,
But still so many don’t seem to care...
Why is true charity so rare?
For God’s kingdom, how much can you spare?

Someone approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to 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 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 would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:16-22)

Reflection

The young man who came to Jesus to ask Him what good deed he must do to have eternal life wanted to justify himself, for he knew that he had kept all the commandments. In all likelihood, he was hoping that Jesus would give him some kind of commission befitting his stature, or the honor of being their group’s official benefactor. He never expected that Jesus’ reply would be: “Go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” The young man went away sad, for although he could spare to give a part of his great possessions, he could not bring himself to part with all of it for Jesus’ sake.

In our quest to bring the Good News of salvation to the marketplace, many of us have experienced the same kind of disappointment that our Lord must have felt in the case of the rich young man who had at first shown interest in the life eternal, but had walked away when he learned the stakes involved. In our Brotherhood’s annual Christian Life Program, for instance, how many of the 30 or so participants who join this 9-week immersion program stay on and become fully committed members of our community? Not even one in five, unfortunately. Or in the case of a brother whom you have painstakingly been ‘feeding’ the Word of God, and leading him to Christ, only to find out later that he had not given up his bad habits. Why is this?

Discipleship is all about total commitment. And one can only be totally committed to follow Jesus if he can serve only one Master (Mt. 6:24). As our Lord Jesus said in Luke 14:33, “Everyone who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be My disciple.” All Christians want to be assured of their passage to heaven, but how many are willing to pay the ultimate price? Of course it is only from His ministers (priests and bishops) that Jesus requires total renunciation of material things – that is why they take the vow of poverty – but all Christians who want to gain eternal life must also be “broken and shared” in imitation of the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t have to sell all our properties to help alleviate poverty in order to be assured of a place in Paradise, but we must at least show God that serving Him through kindness and compassion to the poor is more important than the preservation of our wealth.

Grant us, loving Father, to become fully committed to follow Your will, as our Lord Jesus had done when He sacrificed His life to complete Your Divine Plan for our salvation. Thank You, precious Jesus for teaching us how in Your Holy Gospel. Amen.

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