Charity Saves Souls

Matthew 19: 16-22
Jdgs 2:11-19 / Psa 106

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 19:21-22)

Poverty now plagues our nation,
And yet many don’t seem to care;
For the sake of your salvation,
For the poor, how much can you spare?

A young man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to receive 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 eternal life, keep the commandments.” The young man said, “Which ones?” 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.’” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “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)


The young man wanted to justify himself, because 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 most of it to follow Jesus.

In our quest to bring others to Jesus, and win the “marketplace” for Him, many of us have experienced the same kind of disappointment that our Lord must have felt towards the rich young man who had at first shown interest in the life eternal, but had walked away when he learned of the stakes involved. In our last Brotherhood’s Christian Life Program, where we had our Baptism in the Holy Spirit, almost all of the 27 participants shared how they were touched by the power of the Holy Spirit. But I wonder, how many will persevere and become fully committed members of our community? So far, 3 have already backed out of the original 30. Or take the case of a brother (or sister) to whom you have been ‘feeding’ the Word of God, and leading him/her to Christ, only to find out later that they had not given up their 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. Perhaps this was why Jesus said, “The poor will always be with you.” (Mt.26:11)

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 Saviour, for teaching us how in Your Gospel today. Amen.

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