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Go and sell 
what you have

In the readings from the liturgy of today’s Mass, Jesus is asked what is it that we have to do to inherit eternal life.

However, what is not stated in the question is the underlying worry of whether we can make it by ourselves or not.

Can we do it all by ourselves? This question comes out of an extremely understanding of our lives. It implies that we can control everything and the things that we cannot control become a source of fear.

But Jesus is talking from a different perspective. He is talking about trust in his Father, trust in God, surrendering ourselves to his wisdom.

The rich young man comes on the scene as if he was scripted into the story to ask the very questions that the disciples wanted to ask, but did not have the courage.

The rich young man was told that eternal life is a gift freely offered by God. The response seemed to disappoint him. He had been called to be a disciple, but when push came to shove, he was not able to take the final necessary step.

Jesus, we are told, was also saddened over the incident, as he was calling him to become the person that God really wanted him to be and, was not asking him to give up anything of his own identity or person, only the trappings of wealth and status that he had surrounded himself with.

Riches in Jesus’ time were interpreted as a sign of a good life, but the Christian community quickly developed the idea that wealth is something to be shared among everyone. 

The early Church believed in sharing all wealth for the good of the community, each according to their need. It did not judge a person negatively because of riches, but only because of greed. It was the ability to share that was put up as a cherished value and the inability to do so was frowned upon as a grave fault.

The rich young man saddened Jesus not because he was rich, but because he was greedy and not prepared to put Jesus first and his wealth second.

The Church today does not teach against having private wealth, but points out that we have a responsibility to share our wealth with those who do not have the necessities of life. Our focus must be our inner relationship with God and God is the ultimate example of one who shares willingly and generously with everyone.

In this Year of Grace we are called on to contemplate the face of Jesus, to grow into a deeper relationship with Jesus through becoming more familiar with the scriptures and through paying greater attention to prayer.

One way of seeing how we would have done if we had been confronted by Jesus in the same way the rich young man was is to examine how we have found time to grow in our relationship with Jesus.

Have we found the time or have we put other things first. A question worth asking ourselves is, what is the wealth we are clinging to?

Diocese of Sandhurst Bulletin