The Story of the Rich Young Man
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.’”
He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
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.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, “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.”
They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”
Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.”
Jesus 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…”
Are you lost what to do next?
Are you restless about yourself, about your job, about your meaning and purpose?
The story of the rich man is a story of a searching person. The rich man though he is “rich” but was still in search of something that would truly satisfy him and give him true joy.
He must have surely felt that emptiness within him because despite being materially rich, where he lived a comfortable life, yet, he was restless about his life. This restlessness in him moved him to run up to Jesus, kneel before him and in all honesty asked the Lord, “What must I do to inherit Eternal Life?”
The comforts that he was enjoying, the influence that he had, the riches that he possessed did not give him the true assurance of joy and confidence. Hence, the man remained insecure in his life despite the many things he had.
Each of us too, might be also restless in our life. Despite the things that we are enjoying, we, in some way or another are in search of something that will make us truly happy.
It reveals something to us then that, material possessions, earthly achievements, titles, influence, job promotions etc. are not assurances to us that will give us a life filled with joy.
Each of us has our own riches. Riches here are not just limited with material possessions but to whatever that possessed us. Yes, what is it that possessed me? What are those that kept me? These could be our relationships, personal issues and needs, experiences traumatic or a happy one – which could prevent us from truly reaching out to what will give us freedom, joy and contentment with Jesus.
We believe that what gives us true satisfaction, freedom, joy and contentment is a life with God. This is what the rich man was after. He knew it and so he asked what he should do then.
The Call of Jesus
When the rich man asked Jesus, the Lord looked at him with love and affection. Jesus loved this man and wanted the him to experience such freedom and joy with God.
In the same way, Jesus also looks at us lovingly. Individually, he looks at our eyes, calling us by our name. The gaze of Jesus is an assurance to us that we are not judged and we are not condemned. Even though we consider ourselves as unworthy and useless, yet, Jesus would never point his finger on us condemning us for being sinful and unfaithful. Rather, Jesus looks at us with affection and love, wanting us to be with him.
Indeed, God desires that we become free by discovering our full potentials, by living our lives to the fullest, and making our lives meaningful with God and with others.
Thus, we too can ask, what is it that is lacking in my life? The rich man asked the same question, what is it that I must do to inherit eternal life? He had been a good Jew. He followed the commandments, gave alms to the poor, went to the temple to offer sacrifices and showed respect to people. In the eyes of the Jews, he was in fact a righteous man. However, what he was used to do were not enough. There was more that he could do.
Jesus called him to follow him. He was called to let go of his possessions and to whatever that possessed him and to follow Jesus.
In the same way, Jesus calls us too, wherever we are and whatever is our situation at the moment. Jesus calls us to follow him. We can only follow him when we also let go of the things that hold us and of those things that possessed us.
These may include our dreams and hopes, our family and friends, our successes and achievements, our comforts and riches, but also our failures and sins, our weaknesses and painful experiences. These areas in our life may prevent us from following Jesus. The Lord asks us too, to let them go and to follow him.
Jom Baring, CSsR