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The rich young man

Gospel Reading: Mt 19:16-22

A young man approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied,

“ ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother’; and ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

REFLECTION He went away sad
This is the first time in the gospels that one goes away sad after encountering Jesus. The Greek word for sad is lupeo. It can also mean distressed, being in pain. That young man goes away sad because he cannot leave his possessions behind. The man knows the laws of Moses and many other elements of his religion, and he is surprised that Jesus demands more. Jesus challenges the man to adopt his new teaching.

Possessions here refer to lands or real estate property. They can be acquired without violating the rights of others. They are good in themselves, and owning them may be legitimate.

The Gospel teaches, however, that they are not sources of joy. The young man goes away sad. He does not agree with Jesus. He is not willing to give them up. He sacrifices Jesus in favor of his riches.

Jesus asks that he be made the priority of anyone who desires to gain eternal life. Learning this basic teaching means trusting God completely and risking one’s life to follow Jesus.

You cannot gain eternal life by putting your security in riches. Even in this life wealth is not the source of true joy.

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.