These days the majority of people in the world don’t really give their salvation much of a thought. It’s not too high on their priority list when everything is going great. It’s not something they can see and hold in their hand. Worldly thoughts, worldly actions, we all get sucked into them, myself included. Jesus reminds us today about what we need to do and not do in our lives.
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,
knelt down before him, and asked him,
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments: You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
you shall not defraud;
honor your father and your mother.”
He replied and said to him,
“Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
“You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
At that statement his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
“How hard it is for those who have wealth
to enter the kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
“Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves,
“Then who can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said,
“For human beings it is impossible, but not for God.
All things are possible for God.”
Peter began to say to him,
“We have given up everything and followed you.”
Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you,
there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters
or mother or father or children or lands
for my sake and for the sake of the gospel
who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age:
houses and brothers and sisters
and mothers and children and lands,
with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.”
Today’s Gospel reading begins with Jesus reiterating some of the Ten Commandments. Telling us what we shouldn’t be doing. This young guy tells Jesus that he’s been doing all of that since he was a kid. Jesus gives him a high five and says great job. There’s just one thing left for you to do. Why does Jesus tell him to sell everything he owns and give it to the poor? This guy was already a pretty decent guy it seems. If he was following the commandments then what else would he need to do?
He needed to have faith. He needed to have humility. He needed to understand where he got his wealth and possessions from. If he earned his money honestly he earned it through the talents and abilities given to him by God. Let’s be honest with ourselves. When life is going good we tend to forget about who’s really in charge and who’s the one that really provides for us. When life sucks and things are falling apart, things like sickness, losing a job, broken marriage, etc. that’s when we turn to God. I think this is the point Jesus is trying to make. He’s telling the guy to sell all of his “stuff” because the guy is lacking in faith. He’s not worried about God taking care of and providing because he can do that himself with his “stuff”.
Years ago I lost my job. I was fired for something I didn’t do by a new manager that simply didn’t like me. I was humiliated by this. I was devastated. I was embarrassed. Fortunately my wife has a very good job and we could “get by” for a little while. But there were a few moments of despair but God was there. Needing some money because were broke I was contacted by someone who heard I was pretty good with a camera. They asked me if I’d take some family pictures. Sure why not. I have lots of time of on my hand. They paid me exactly what I needed to get by for a few more days. That’s just one example of many in my life where God provided exactly when we needed it and how we needed it because we had put our faith and trust in Him to provide.
It’s not that money and worldly possessions are intrinsically bad. We just can’t forget who’s in charge and how we got them in the first place.
Just one more thing: ask yourself if you thank God and ask from God when things are going well as often as you turn to Him when things aren’t.