Monday, March 13, 2017

"What Should I Do?"

There is a young wealthy man, who is listening to the One they call Master and Teacher talking to His followers about the Kingdom of Heaven.  He understands this Kingdom is that of eternal life.  The young man approaches the Teacher, falling at His feet, and asks, "Good Master, what should I do in order to obtain eternal life?" 

The Master responds to this mysterious young man affectionately.  
"Why do you call me good?   No one is good, no one except God, God alone."

"The commandments ~ so you are familiar with them: Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your mother and father, and love your neighbour as yourself."

The young man appeals with sincerity, "But I've kept all of those ever since I was a young boy.  What else is there for me to do?"

The Teacher is taken by this and tells the young man what remains to be done. 
"If you wish to be perfect, sell all of your possessions, give to the poor, and by doing this you will have treasure in Heaven; then you must come, and follow me."


Glancing around him, the Master quips to his followers how difficult it is for those who are wealthy to make their entrance into the Kingdom of God.  The disciples are astonished at what He is saying.  

He emphatically repeats how difficult it is to enter the Kingdom of God, and declares that even a camel could pass more easily through the eye of a needle than a wealthy man enter the Kingdom of God! 

Let us look more closely at the account in Matthew 19:16-26.

Christ has two issues he must address: the interrogations of this sincere youth; and his disciples' reaction to their Master's handling of the situation.

The young man does not appear to have perceived Christ's articulate invitation to this mystery of eternal life, the Kingdom of God, Heaven. He is stirred up, perplexed. "The commandments? Which?"

Christ offers to list the ancient Decalogue as inscribed in Exodus, the Old Book, and He is content to add the greatest of all commandments: love your neighbour as yourself.

Impatiently, the youth interrupts. "All of these I have done since I was young! I have always done." It is then the fellow is actually seized with humility. "What more do I lack?"

Christ, always attentive to our every movement of the soul, is obviously touched by the yearning.

The appeal suggests what remains to be done even after one has been faithful to the commandments. Because no one can be perfect, there is no necessity to seek perfection. However, this perfection to which the wealthy young man is summoned is precisely that which the most fervent of Christ's disciples are engaged.

It is in the perfection of the Beatitudes, those virtues to which they tend incessantly ~ taught and preached by Christ ~ a most simple perfection.

It begins in the Commandments of the Old Book and is connected to the Greatest among them. The repetitious teachings ~ it is in this that the perfection is indicated.

Christ defines the poverty's hidden significance, its secret value. What is in one's heart is where his treasure is found ~ through this poverty a person acquires a treasure in Heaven. (Matthew 6:19-21)

One does not extricate himself from the material except to become more spiritual: to disown the perishable in order to possess the imperishable.

We see here once more the lessons which are well known to the disciples, repeated often. They could not have any doubt about the true thoughts of the Master, who preaches simply a holy poverty, capable of abandoning oneself to God.

Christ knew what he asked from this sympathetic young man: He asked the impossible. He knew the lad was a son of a wealthy property owner, spoiled by good fortune, and could not lay his riches aside.  Nevertheless, Christ well understood the fellow's inner turmoil.

The departure of this young lad weighed upon Christ's disciples.   This episode vividly impressed them, and they were indeed exasperated.

Christ noticed and thus began to prepare their hearts for more.