The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew 19:16-26
Man was given a mind to think, to question, to reason, to observe. The young man in today’s gospel shows great promise because he uses this God given mind to ask the most important question; “What must I do to have eternal life?” Even this question itself seems like something foreign to us. We don’t think about the eternal life. We think about what we will do today, some of us are even thinking about it at this very moment. We oddly spend a lot of time thinking about things that really don’t matter much but we often forget to focus on the things that are permanent. God is permanent because He is infinite and everlasting, without beginning or end.
This God who loves us has decided to share His everlasting life with those who seek Him with determination. This is where the young man shows himself entirely unready to chase God and the eternal life that He offers. He asks the right question, but He is not ready to do the things that Jesus Christ requires. I am the same as this young ruler. I follow the commandments reasonably well. I haven’t ever been arrested. I try to love God. But there are things that I love that keep me from fully following and loving God. There are things that hold me back.
For some it is the love of money and materialism that holds us back. This was the case with the rich, young ruler. He has everything and that was exactly the problem. The Lord Jesus Christ can’t work with people who are full and rich. He only finds a suitable home in the hearts of the hungry and poor. This does not mean that you have to be materially poor or hungry. It means that you have to hunger and thirst for holiness and godliness. If you are busy with your own goals and priorities, where is God?
If there is a food pantry in the city, who do you think receives the food, those who sit in their homes and wait or those who come and knock on the doors of the pantry? We should become expert beggars. If you are too good to be a beggar, you are not fit for the kingdom of God. If you go to sleep at night feeling confident and sure of yourself and your situation, then you live in a fantasy world. We have to become beggars who have no hope but the Lord. We have to treat our riches as rags in comparison to the riches that God wants to offer us.
When the Lord Himself becomes your only hope, then you are on the path to true prayer, true knowledge of God and eternal life. The young man wants to know the easy way to get to heaven. He learns from the greatest teacher, that there ain’t no easy way to heaven. And don’t you let anyone tell you differently. Those who tell you differently, are reading some parts of the Bible and ignoring the majority. Heaven is gained through toil and heartache and the struggle to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in a meaningful way and to obey Him every day. Don’t believe in Him once and feel confident in your salvation. Salvation is a gift to those who have living, vibrant faith but faith without works is dead.
Our Lord didn’t tell the young man to believe in His name so that he would be instantly saved. Christ told him to give up the one thing he loved, so that he would have room in his heart to truly love the One who could love him in return.
This is the central aspect of the Christian faith, to give up whatever stands in the way of a genuine relationship with Christ. Glory be to God forever AMEN.