August 16, 2021
COMPLETE OBEDIENCE LEADS TO A CLOSER RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
In the modern world we are living, it is very easy to be swayed by the ways and the pleasures of this world.We are constantly being bombarded to seek out worldly ways by advertisements, signs, and the practices of others. We are told or shown that what matters is wealth, beauty, fame, and pleasure. These, in and of themselves, may not be all bad, but if they draw us away from our relationship to the Lord Jesus and having a relationship with others, then they are temptations to make them a higher priority than what God wants us to have.
The First Reading describes the Israelites after the time of Joshua and how they turned away from the Lord until the Lord raised up judges to get them back on track. God sent “judges” to aid the Israelites both in military and spiritual matters. The judges first role were to help overthrow the oppressors of the Children of Israel and to show that God was willing to take care of them, especially if they returned to the Lord and followed the commands of the Lord God.
The Israelites at the time of the Judges did what God wanted, but didn’t have hearts for obedience. They proved this by their relapse into wicked conduct after each of the judges died. Similarly, the man in today’s Gospel reading, told Jesus that he had kept the commandments. However, he did not have a heart for obedience. This explains why he refused to obey Jesus’ command to go, sell his possessions, and give to the poor.
The gospel concludes that the man “Went away sad.” This man believes that he is a good person in the sense that he asks Jesus what he shall do. He thinks whatever hard task Jesus might pick out for him he is fully capable to accomplish it in his own strength. The point Jesus is trying to make here is that no one is good enough, only God.
But why does he go away from Jesus with sadness rather than with joy? It is because his treasure and his hope for happiness are misplaced. Treasure has a special connection to the heart, the place of desire and longing, the place of will and focus Jesus answers the young man’s question in two stages. First, Jesus tells him, “If you wish to enter into eternal life, keep the commandments.” Jesus’ counsel confirms that the commandments comprise the attitudes and actions that lead to life. But notice that Jesus distinguishes between entering into life and possessing fullness of life. Obeying the commandments, which the young man has always done, puts us on the path of life; however, it is not enough to lead us into everlasting life.
The second part of his answer Jesus, says that if the young man truly seeks “perfection,” he must rid himself of his possessions and “give to the poor.” In other words, if the rich young man will ever cross the threshold into fullness of life by becoming the person God created him to be and that God’s grace, love, and goodness enable him to be, he must strip.
The rich young man “went away sad”, simply because, His attachment to wealth and possessions kept him from the wholehearted commitment to Christ that leads to fullness of life.
Dear Christians, we are called to follow the Lord Jesus and rely on Him above all else. Yes, we must be financially responsible for those whom God has entrusted to our care, but we must also set example of clinging most strongly to what is important in life; a closer relationship with the Lord Jesus. The holier we become here on earth, the greater will our eternal reward be in Heaven. Do not hesitate to do all you can to build up that treasure that will be with you forever.
May God help us to continue seeking the way of the Lord Jesus and be willing to forsake anything that hinders us from following Jesus with all our heart, soul and mind.
The most valuable thing is not what we have in our lives, but who we have in our lives.