You can listen to this homily delivered by Bishop Longin here.
First, many of us often think the young man went away from Christ and therefore was doomed. We think he was hopeless because he couldn’t get rid of that burden of wealth. But the gospel does not say this. It says it is hard for a rich young man to enter into the Kingdom of God. Why? Because the Kingdom of God is a kingdom in which there is nothing but love. It is a kingdom defined by the first beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
What does this spiritual poverty consist of? It is an awareness that we possess nothing. There is nothing that was made by us, that we have authority over that we can . Indeed we were called into being by God’s word, we live by God’s grace, we know God because He has revealed Himself to us, we bear His name because He gave it to us. Our body, heart and mind, our friendships, our joys and sorrows are not under our authority. If we are so rich in life and friendship and strength, that is because God loves us and people love us. We have nothing we can rightly call our own. But even though nothing is ours, we are still so rich and we need to realize that we live by God’s love and the love of those around us – that is the kingdom of heaven on earth. How often it is difficult to realize this? How hesitant are we to accept just being loved and being enriched by that love. For a rich man, the one who thinks he owns something, it really is hard to be in the kingdom where all the joy is in giving and receiving from the heart. That love of God and one’s neighbor, isn’t that wonderful?
We often mistakenly say, this Biblical story does not relate to me. What riches do I have? But what don’t we have? What is there that we are not trying to grab and hold on to? What don’t we consider our property: our mind, our health, our life, that which we posses and that which we strive for? Is it hard to say that all those things are not ours. Even when we build the church, don’t we usually say, now the church is ours, it is our property? How terrible is this. The church belongs to God, it is His property. And yet we say our property, we try to confiscate it. You see how easily we view even God’s grace, even a gift from God, even that which undoubtedly belongs to God, as our own. This confirms that we always try to be rich in one way or another. And yet we can only enter into the triumphant kingdom, rejoicing in love, when we can say nothing is mine. But nevertheless, God loves me, people are kind to me, my family loves me and everything is wonderful. I am endowed with all of this even though nothing belongs to me.
At the beginning of this morning’s parable the young man knows he is rich, he has fulfilled all the commandments of God, he’s clean before the law, he is righteous but it turns out since he considers all this his virtue and he is sure of his right to be saved it is actually an obstacle before him. How careful do we also need to be with our own justice and righteousness, even with the justice and the righteousness of the Church. They can transform us or they can become an idol of self-love, separating us from the very love and life itself. Let us begin learning how to love by forgetting that we own anything and by thanking and rejoicing for what is given to us. Our whole life, no matter how hard and terrible it may be will be blessed and open unto us the kingdom of God. Amen.
His Grace Bishop LONGIN
of New Gracanica and Midwestern America