“All 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.” (Matthew 19:20-21)
Religion without charity is never complete. It is not enough that we keep God’s commandments, we must also ensure that we do not make a god of our material possessions. Like the Israelites we read about in our first reading, we become idol worshippers when we seek security only in our possessions. To the young rich man, Jesus said: “If you want to be perfect, go and sell what you possess and give to the poor.”
According to St. John Chrysostom, when this young man first met Jesus asking about what he has to do to have eternal life, Jesus led him to the truth in various degrees. First, Jesus taught him the need to let go of false flattery by saying: “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.”
Secondly, Jesus proceeds to remind him of his basic Catechism: “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” St. Augustine commenting on this statement says Jesus said “if you want to enter into life” meaning that at the moment what we have is not really life but a miserable and finite existence on earth. The only life is that which we shall begin to live in heaven.
Thirdly, having proved that he had observed the commandments since his childhood, Jesus led him to a higher degree of perfection; to sell all that he had and give the money to the poor. Dear friends, it is very important that we take note of the sequence of steps Jesus outlined in this conversation with the young man.
Given that he was not willing to give away his possessions, the young man walked away from Jesus sad. Do not make a god of your possessions. We brought nothing into this world and when we die, we cannot take anything with us. What shall it profit you to gain the world but lose your soul? Help the poor. Learn to give things away. “I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations.” (Luke 16:9)
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, save me from the worship of my possessions. Amen
Bible Study: Judges 2:11-19, Psalm 106 and Matthew 19:16-22).