(Part 63)


August 17, 2015
Today’s gospel: Matthew 19:16-22

Jesus came to win for us our salvation, so that we might enter into eternal life in heaven. For this to happen, we must repent and put our faith in Jesus. For this to happen, one needs to experience conversion, that is, to meet Christ and then to start to live Christ, a life of obedience to him. “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (v.17c). Thus, for the salvation won by Jesus on the cross to be experienced by people, we need to evangelize them, that is, to share Christ so that they might meet Christ.
Now all that is just the first step. There is more. The rich young man, who observed the commandments, asked Jesus, “What do I still lack?” (v.20b). Jesus said to him, “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.” (v.21). What more is there? It is holiness and Christian perfection. Though we can make it to heaven with a certain minimum (though keeping the commandments is already a high standard), Jesus wants it all for us, for us to be truly like him, for us to be another Christ, for us to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect.
Now perfection is not about giving to the poor, though God favors the poor and the Church has a preferential option for the poor. It is rather about discipleship. To be a disciple is to follow Jesus. To be able to follow Jesus, there must be nothing that will keep us from doing so. But oftentimes, even for those who have already met Christ and are living Christ, possessions (including power, position, prestige) stand in the way. Just consider the rich young man who was righteous and wanted more of God, but could not do what Jesus said because “he had many possession.” (v.22).
Thus, selling what you have is to have nothing left but Jesus. With nothing left but Jesus, one is free to follow him, whenever, wherever, whatever the circumstance. Since we are holding on to nothing, then there is nothing that can hold us back.
Here then is the challenge for us. Most of us cannot literally sell all we have because we have obligations to others in life, especially to family. So for us it is more a question of detachment. Can we really detach, even from family, such that only Jesus is our priority (remember how one who loves father, mother, son or daughter more than Jesus is not worthy of him?)?
Here is the challenge. While keeping some possessions, can we detach from materialism and consumerism? Can we be satisfied with the basics of life, rather than striving for more and more? Can we become unselfish? Can we look to the needs of others, especially the poor, even before our own needs?
“If you wish to enter into life ….” “If you wish to be perfect ….”

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