13th SUNDAY OF LUKE, Luke 18: 18-27
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
‘Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”’ The story of the rich young ruler is in all three synoptic gospels, and addresses a very important question that all of us must ask for ourselves to Christ: “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” This is a very serious question from a man whom some of the Holy Fathers say is very sincere, and his question requires a serious answer.
This rich young ruler is a lover of money; this becomes clear after Christ tells him “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Up until this point, the rich young ruler had been asking several questions, and the culmination of his questions led to one answer from Christ, an answer meant for this rich young man personally, and yet at the same time, an answer meant for each and every one of us.
This is how Christ answers each one of us – with a perfect prescription for our passions, if we have the heart and the openness to listen. For this young man loved money and his possessions more than he loved Christ and Christ knew this. Christ desired to cure this man’s sickness and heal his soul, yet this man was not prepared to hear this answer, and went away sorrowful.
Are we willing to hear what Christ would tell us? This is a question we must ask ourselves continually. This rich young ruler thought that Christ could teach him and give him the means by which he could live forever, while yet enjoying still the pleasures of gold and riches. Yet our Lord required of this man that he give up these things in order to sanctify his soul and save himself; then this rich young man was filled with regret for asking, “what do I still lack?”
I think this is a good lesson for all of us because we continually should be asking this question, “what do I still lack?” And, yet are we ready for the answer? Or do we have an answer in our mind that we hope is acceptable? We have to be willing to give all for the Kingdom of Heaven, whatever that should mean for each one of us, and it may be different for each one of us. He wants us to give up whatever is more important to us than Him. Concerning the price we must pay to acquire the Kingdom of Heaven, Our Holy Father Gregory says this: It has no exact price. Everyone has to give everything he has. The apostle Peter gave his nets and received the heavenly kingdom; the widow gave two mites.
Whoever has a million dollars, let him give that and whoever has nothing, let him give his freedom. Perhaps there are some who are able to possess riches, and yet because they give generously from their hearts, are able to be saved, but again, if we love temporal things more than we love God, we lose sight of our true goal on this earth, and that is eternal life. It is possible to possess wealth and yet still be a good steward of our substance, as the blessed Theophylact says: A rich man is one who has funds, and properties, and lands, and houses, and he gives to no one. He steals; He is a thief, because he is stealing from the poor. A steward is a person who has substance also. He has money; He might have land and have houses, but he also has mercy and distributes to the poor. Then he is a good steward of his wealth.
The Apostles, after Jesus gives the command to this rich young ruler, are greatly astonished, just as we would be, and ask, “Who then can be saved?” They realize their own tendencies and weaknesses and that it is so easy to love this life more than the life to come. They are also still thinking in terms of their own strength. Jesus tells them: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” What God commands of His people and of His disciples is impossible on our own, with our own strength. We can do nothing good on our own. We need to continually remind ourselves of this.
It is Christ who gives us the strength to carry out His God-pleasing commandments, by the grace of the Holy Spirit and this is the only way we are able to fulfill his commandments. At last, it is a reminder that we must turn to God for we are helpless.
We all encounter obstacles on the path to salvation. Beloved of God, let us not give up hope! None of us are able to fulfill God’s call on our own, but by reading the lives of the saints, through prayer, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we will be able to fulfill our calling, WITH GOD’S HELP.
May God bless us and help us. Amen.