28th Sunday of O.T. (B)
The RICH YOUNG MAN: Attachment to Wealth is an Obstacle to Heaven
Today’s Sunday liturgy reminds us the importance to put our heart, our head, our desires and ambitions in what really matters in the end: TO BE RICH BEFORE GOD AND NOT BEFORE MEN.
Wealth, riches, money, in themselves, are not bad: they are necessary for a man to live with dignity. The problem lies in one’s attitude towards them: if they occupy the highest priority in a man’s life over and above God and the others; and, if a person is overly attached to them such that his life is centered on possessing, amassing wealth for himself and forgetting others. This wrong attitude towards wealth constitutes a serious obstacle to entering the Kingdom of God. This is the reason why Our Lord taught us in the Beatitudes: “Happy the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs(Mt 5: 3)”
There are other things which must occupy the top tier of our priorities: WISDOM (1st reading); the WORD OF GOD which sets to our eyes God’s will for us (2nd reading) and FOLLOWING CHRIST (Gospel).
- The 1st reading (Wis 7:7-11) states: “I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire.”
- In the 2nd reading (Heb 4:12–13), St. Paul tell the Hebrews: “Brothers and sisters: Indeed the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.”
- In the Gospel (Mk 19:17-30), we see how a rich young man, a very good lad who lives a very clean life from his youth, fulfilling the 4th-10th commandments, but still feeling void and empty…realizing that something is lacking. So when he saw Jesus, he ran up and knelt down before Jesus asking him the most important question which all of us pose in our life: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?…Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, ‘You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”
- In this regard, St. John Paul II comments: “The sadness of the young man makes us reflect. We could be tempted to think that many possessions, many of the goods of this world, can bring happiness. We see instead in the case of the young man in the Gospel that his many possessions had become an obstacle to accepting the call of Jesus to follow him. He was not ready to say YES to Jesus, and NO to self, to say yes to love and no to escape. Real love is demanding. I would fail in my mission if I did not clearly tell you so. For it was Jesus — or Jesus himself — who said: ‘You are my friends if you do what I command you’ (in 15:14). Love demands effort and a personal commitment to the will of God. It means discipline and sacrifice, but it also means joy and human fulfilment.
“Dear young people: do not be afraid of honest effort and honest work; do not be afraid of the truth. With Christ’s help, and through prayer, you can answer his call, resisting temptations and fads, and every form of mass manipulation. Open your hearts to the Christ of the Gospels — to his love and his truth and his joy. Do not go away sad!…
“Follow Christ! You who are married: share your love and your burdens with each other; respect the human dignity of your spouses; accept joyfully the life that God gives through you; make your marriage stable and secure for your children’s sake.
“Follow Christ! You who are single or who are preparing for marriage. Follow Christ! You who are young or old. Follow Christ! You who are sick or ageing; who are suffering or in pain. You who feel the need for healing, the need for love, the need for a friend — follow Christ!
“To all of you I extend — in the name of Christ — the call, the invitation, the plea: ‘Come and follow Me”(St. John Paul II, Homily on Boston Common, Oct. 1, 1979)
- WE MUST LEARN HOW TO BE DETACHED FROM MATERIAL AND WORLDLY GOODS FOR THEY CAN NEVER SATISFY OUR INFINITE LONGING FOR HAPPINESS WHICH ONLY GOD CAN PROVIDE. ATTACHMENT TO WEALTH OR MATERIAL GOODS IS A SERIOUS HINDRANCE, A HUGE OBSTACLE TO ENTERING HEAVEN. This is the reason why Jesus said: “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” If a person has sufficient resources for himself and his family to live a decent life, he must learn to help those who are in need.
- Furthermore, we must remember that OUR LORD CAN NEVER BE OUTDONE IN GENEROSITY. He said: “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.” Do you realize, for 1 we give, 100 we receive! So it’s all worthwhile to do what God asks from each one of us knowing that He will always take into account and reward those who give…who give themselves to follow Him in the path He indicates to each one.
Dear friends, it’s not the money, nor the wealth, nor the riches, which are obstacles to enter the kingdom of heaven. It’s the attitude that one has towards them.
Let us ask the Blessed Trinity through Our Lady and St. Joseph so that we may have THE CORRECT − DETACHED− ATTITUDE TOWARDS MATERIAL WEALTH AND POSSESSIONS in general, convinced that IT IS MUCH MORE IMPORTANT TO BE RICH BEFORE GOD THAN BEFORE MEN; so that we may be GENEROUS IN HELPING THOSE WHO ARE IN NEED and BE PROPERLY DISPOSED TO GIVE UP WHATEVER HE ASKS FROM US IN ORDER TO FOLLOW OUR LORD FAITHFULLY along the path of holiness He indicates to each one of us convinced that He will reward us the hundredfold of what we surrender to him.
-Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei, CATHOLICS STRIVING FOR HOLINESS. We are also in Facebook: www.facebook.com/CatholicsstrivingforHoliness. Hope you like our page and invite your friends as well to do so in order to help more people.
PHOTO SOURCE: “Christ and the Rich Young Ruler” by HeinrichHoffman (painter) in https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8e/Hoffman-ChristAndTheRichYoungRuler.jpg