The rich young man

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

THAT gospel story of the rich young man who asked Christ about how to gain eternal life (cfr. Mt 19,16-22) provides us with a great lesson on total self-giving since only then can we fully identify ourselves with Christ, the pattern of our humanity and the savior of our damaged humanity.

For this, we have to be willing and ready to leave everything behind. We should not only be generous in giving away things. Rather, we should give our very own selves, convinced that by doing so we would be completely emptied of ourselves and filled only with the spirit of Christ. This is what is proper to us.

We have to be vigilant so as not to be trapped by our human and temporal concerns, no matter how legitimate they are when viewed only with our human and natural ideals. When not pursued with Christ, they can only spoil us. Yes, the pursuit of effectiveness, efficiency, profitability, wealth, good health, and the like, if not done with and for Christ, can only spoil us.

That’s because the things of this world are meant only to be the means, the occasion, the instruments we have to use to show our faith, hope and love for God and for others.

That is why Christ in his priestly prayer before his passion and death said, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” (Jn 17,15-16)

What is clear is that while being in the world, we should be detached from the things of the world. Our heart should be completely with God. This is what is meant by being ready to leave everything behind for Christ. And with God, we would have everything else actually!

Let’s always remember that clear indication of Christ: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Mt 6,33) Christ even illustrated this point more graphically through parables, as when he said that the kingdom of God is like a treasure found in a field or when one finds a pearl of great price that would provoke one to sell all he has to buy that field or pearl. (cfr. Mt 13,44-45)

St. Paul lived this indication well when he said, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” (Phil 3,8)

We should also remember what Christ said was the greatest commandment, and that is, that we have to love God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. (cfr. Mt 22,37) In other words, we have to give God everything, assured that what we give away, we will regain many times more.

And it’s not just things that we have to give, things that we can spare to give away. In the end, it’s really our whole selves that we have to give. This was dramatized in that episode about a poor widow.

“Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all.” Christ said. “For all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” (Lk 21,3-4)

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