Thirty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost

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In the gospel this morning we are given insight on how our attitude should be towards this world in which we live on the one hand and, on the other, how our attitude should be towards God. A man comes to Jesus and he asks the Lord what he should do to inherit eternal life. The reading this morning is from St. Luke’s gospel but St. Matthew also describes this episode and he describes this man as being ‘young’.

It is not by accident that he should happen to be a “young man” since young people are radical, young people seek solutions. Youth, if it is good and healthy and not corrupt by the temptations of its age, bears in mind the problems of their fathers, the problems and difficulties those before them had to bear and they seek solutions to solve those problems.

The greatest problem of all times and generations is the problem of death. We have sickness and we have diseases and we have the poor and all sorts of problems and difficulties but the ultimate problem of mankind is that our life comes to an end. And so when the young ruler comes to Jesus in this morning’s gospel reading he asks the Lord what he must do in order to solve this problem.

The Lord tells him to follow the commandments to which this man replies that he already does this. “If you want to be perfect,” the Lord tells him, “go and sell everything you have and give it to the poor.” Upon hearing this, this man becomes very sad, turns around and walks away.

If we have love for someone we would want to spend all of our time with that person. We would not complain about spending neither time nor money on that person; on the contrary, we would sacrifice everything just to be with that person. That’s the love that God has for mankind. God sends His Only begotten Son who takes upon himself human flesh and becomes one of us out of His great love for mankind. Man, on the other hand, wants to love God with that same kind of selfless love but is surrounded by temptations and, as a result, falls into the temptations of this world and his love for God grows cold.

The tragic reality of this is that man, wishing to do what he wants and wanting to follow the desires of his heart, might find passing happiness but doesn’t have eternal joy. Subsequently, it is interesting to note in this morning’s reading how the young man, upon hearing that he must sell all of his possessions, doesn’t tell the Lord with a smile and laugh, “No thanks. I’d rather have my riches than eternal life.” Rather, he walks away sad.

Deep down inside every man is a desire to love God with one’s whole heart, soul and mind. But the temptations of this world – somewhat like the shiny apple that tempted the first man and woman – are so powerful that with a deceiving conviction they can force man into thinking he desires something he really doesn’t. And in the end he can even become so addicted to this thought that he would rather follow it with sadness and a bitter heart than enter into the joy which the Lord has prepared for all those who love Him.

Our possessions are not an obstacle for our salvation. Neither is the message of this morning’s reading that if we have many possessions we will not be saved. Rather, that our most precious possession be God.

May God always abide in our hearts not as an afterthought or something we possess in addition to everything else. But may He be in the very center of our hearts, of our minds and our entire lives both now and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

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