Gospel Reflection for 14th October Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Rich Young Man
In the gospels, there are many men and women that Jesus meets whose name we don’t know. In the gospel this Sunday, we meet one of them.
Traditionally, we know three things about this person; he was rich, young and a man. How we know that he is young is not something we are told.
He approaches Jesus and asks him a question.
How to inherit eternal life?
He wants to know what he needs to do to inherit eternal life. He sounds like a good and decent man. He follows the commandments and obeys the law, but he feels in his heart there is more he needs to do. He is right; there is more, much more. Jesus looks at him, loves him and asks that he gives away all his wealth and possessions and then follow Jesus.
Now the response and responsibility falls on the man himself; he asked the question, he received his answer, now what is he going to do? Will he choose to give away all that he owns and follow Jesus? We know that he did no such thing! He loved them more than he actually wanted to follow Jesus.
It is worth noting that Jesus did not go after him and beg him to become one of his disciples or followers. The man asked an honest question, Jesus in return gave him an honest answer.
The demand to be a follower of Jesus is high one. Jesus does not water it down for anyone. He offered the man an invitation, he refused this invitation and Jesus let him go on his way.
For the man, it might have been easy to follow a set of rules and regulations and to follow the letter of the Law. But Jesus was looking for so much more from him.
For us today, it might be easy for us to do and say all the right things. It might be easy for us to go to mass every day and say all the right prayers. These are not bad things in themselves.
Looking for more from us
Again though, Jesus is looking for so much more from us. He wants a total commitment from us. And with this man, Jesus knew that for him, the one central thing that was holding back was all his wealth and possessions. So Jesus asks him to give them up and let them go. But he simply can’t do this. It’s too high a price to pay to be a follower of Jesus.
Whether or not we like to admit it, each of us likely has something or other holding us back from entering into a fuller and richer friendship with Jesus. For some it might wealth and possessions, it might be work, or it might be the power and control we think we have over other people. If these things become too big and too important to us, they will create a block and barrier between ourselves and Jesus.
The invitation and challenge from Jesus to us is the same one he gave to the rich young man. Jesus says, let go of what is controlling you; give up whatever has power over you and free you heart so that you can follow me without fear or regret.
We can’t simply follow Jesus on our own terms. He asks us to go beyond what is safe and comfortable and convenient for us. He stretches out his hand to us; he looks at us and loves; he calls us by our name and says, if you want to be my follower, take up your cross and follow me.’
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here.
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