And there was a man who came to him and asked, “Master, what good deed must I do to possess eternal life?” ·Jesus said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is one alone who is good. But if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said, “Which?” “These”: Jesus replied, “You must not kill. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not bring false witness. Honor your father and mother, and: you must love your neighbor as yourself.”Matthew:19:16-30
The young man said to him, “I have kept all these. What more do I need to do?” Jesus said, “If you wish to be perfect, go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard these words he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.
All of us who are poor make an effort to distance ourselves from this passage and point the finger at rich people. On closer inspection, I show you how every single one of us rich or poor are this man of great wealth.
If you read the rest of that chapter, Jesus follows this up with how hard it will be for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He then follows that up with responding to Peter who said he’d given up everything to follow the Lord. Jesus lets him know that anyone who leaves children, land or family for His sake will be greatly rewarded.
At first glance the scriptures is talking about wealthy people implying those who are materialistic. Being rich isn’t sinful at all, but it makes the spiritual life harder. It is when our love for wealth becomes disproportionate to the love of God himself that entering into the perfect life becomes more difficult.
We always become what we love. And if we love money, it only makes sense that we become cold and hard just like money. The rich man was keeping the commandments, and in the eyes of Jesus this was sufficient. But because the man sought to follow Christ and live the life of spiritual perfection, he had to give up his wealth. It was too much to bear so he walked away sad.
When we read these passages, we see that Jesus isn’t talking only to people who are physically wealthy, but those who are attached to the spiritual gold of egoism and human approval. We may have no money, but our souls are soaked in a different kind of wealth more hidden than the former. And for that reason this kind of hidden wealth is harder to give up than the dollar bill $$$. Christians walk through their entire lives like the wealthy man above.
They have their confession heard by the priest, go to Church once a week. They get involved in parish activities and pray daily. They do all these things but there is one thing they lack. What is it? They have yet to give up the attachment they have to sin and their spiritual imperfections. They have yet to repent.
The love of human approval, egoism and a disproportionate love for the self. The attachment to the enjoyment of worldly affairs is not something easily given away. Although the Church teaches that such is not necessary for salvation (remember Jesus said the man was doing enough by following the commandments), it nevertheless does not mean it’s not every Christians calling.
We are all called to become perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. But when we want more, are we willing to sacrifice the wealth of worldly behaviour in order to follow Christ? Are we willing to put him above our friends and family?
Are we willing to declare Jesus in the presence of men not caring for their human approval because to have their approval has some advantage in it? Are we willing to grow detached from the land of self-love that we walk upon daily? No! Many of us walk away sad for we are very wealthy people.
Do not be mistaken dear reader, that just because you are poor, you get to distance yourself from this passage. This wealthy man is every one of us rich or poor, for if we live in sin we are soaked in the riches of this world. If we truly want to follow Christ we must being willing to put that wealth to the wind and go follow Christ.