Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Christ has come to restore the world to order, to abolish the chaos and fracturing of sin by showing mankind his place in creation as the beloved children of God. Two chapters after Jesus asks Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” a young man runs up to Him, kneels and addresses Him as “Good teacher…”

Jesus’ response is cryptic. “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” Is Jesus rebuking the man? No; He is testing him. He is prying deeper into what this young man means when he calls Jesus “good teacher”; could it be that he, like Peter, has come to believe? So Jesus reminds the young man of what God, the Good Teacher, has taught in the Law, and he admits to having followed God’s teaching. Is it any wonder the Gospel says, “Jesus…loved him…”? It oughtn’t be, for the Law is the Word of God and so is Jesus. After all, Jesus tells us in John 14:21 that “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.” Clearly this rich young man has done so! His obedience to the Law shows his love for God and thus for Jesus, and so it seems that he is living a holy life ordered to God. Seeing this, Jesus invites him to be an apostle by testing him one last time, to see if he truly is seeking “first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”: He tells him to sell all he has and give to the poor.

Alas! The young man departs for his life is not ultimately ordered to God but rather his own wealth, and he goes away sad. Why? Because for all his obedience to the Law he realized that he did not have a full relationship with God; he served both God and mammon. It is easy not to kill, steal and keep the commandments when you are wealthy and secure, but give up all you have to follow Christ in poverty—subsisting on His grace alone—and then your holiness shall be tested. The more the world is nothing to us—dust beneath our feet—the more Christ is everything: our treasure in Heaven. If we can, for love of Him, rid ourselves of everything until He is our one remaining possession, how could we possibly want for anything more?

March 3rd, 2014