The Way to Perfection

Matthew 19:16-22
Sir 17:19-27 / Ps 32

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)

When wealth becomes your lifelong goal,
Its possession your sole desire,
Its power will corrupt your soul,
And doom you to eternal fire.

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life ?” Jesus replied, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” The young man said, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Matthew 19:16-22)

Reflection

He was a very rich man, owning vast real estate properties. Shrewd in this world, he also wanted to insure the “accomplishment” of winning eternal life. That was why he was also an obedient Jew, following all the laws and decrees in the Torah. Keen as he was on all matters that he set his heart on, he approached Jesus for advice. “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” When our Lord told him the one thing that he lacked – freedom from his material attachments – his face fell, and he went away sad, because he was totally addicted to his possessions.

Like the rich man asking Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, I had often wondered if I was doing enough to ensure the salvation of my soul. I have been fortunate– where I finished my high school and college, the principle of “being a man for others” was emphasized as key to finding fulfillment in this life. The Knights of Columbus gave an apt reminder in the Latin words, “Tempus fugit, memento mori” – which means, “Life is short, remember death”. One can only wonder why so many intelligent people, Christians at heart, forget these wise words once they reach the pinnacle of their earthly success.

With these thoughts in mind, I can only pray to God, “Thank You, Lord that You have not allowed me to become rich and powerful.” I remember a passage in the Bible that says, “Man in his prosperity is like cattle led to slaughter.” At the age of 64, I have realized that true wealth lies in having genuine friends, being physically fit, enjoying the love of wife, children, grandchildren and relatives, and being active in my BCBP community. With these, why should I envy the rich and well-off, who have only as much as a camel’s chance of entering the eye of a needle as entering the kingdom of God? (Luke 10:25)

Am I willing to share my wealth and resources with the poor in order to follow Jesus? Thank You, Lord for revealing this wisdom to me, and enriching my faith. Amen.

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