In this Gospel reading (Mark 10:17-30), Jesus asks the rich young man, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.” There’s a two-fold message here.
First, if the young man truly believes that Jesus is good and that his teachings are good (and wasn’t merely trying to win him over with flattery), and if he has observed his miracles and sinless life, then it should be obvious to him that all this goodness is proof that Jesus is God.
Secondly, Christ’s question offers the young man an opportunity to become more humble. If he truly believes what Jesus says, then he should realize that since only God is good, no one else, including himself, obeys the commandments perfectly. Such a realization should have opened his heart to the truth that Jesus explains next:
“There’s only one thing keeping you from being holy like God: earthly attachments. To gain freedom from this world and possess only what belongs to the kingdom of God share your treasures.”
He’s saying this to all of us, but he’s not telling us to become destitute. To “give up” everything we possess means being willing to give it away. If it’s a good thing for us to have because it blesses us, God does want us to enjoy it, but true joy comes from being God’s partner as a distributor of his wealth. It’s the fullest way to live! And we are all called to live this way.
If we remain attached to earthly stuff, we distance ourselves from God and hurt those who would benefit from our generosity. However, to achieve complete freedom from attachments, we cannot rely only on our own efforts. It’s often very difficult to let go and become willing to share everything.
The good news is that Jesus made it possible by taking our sins to the cross and sharing with us his own Holy Spirit, who empowers us to do whatever he asks of us. Our lives on earth become more fulfilling when we dare to share. The more we give to others in a spirit of love, the more we receive the treasures of heaven. Indeed, we become one of heaven’s treasures!
© 2015 by Terry A. Modica
WHAT THE RICH YOUNG MAN MAY HAVE THOUGHT LATER ON
Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? I am nothing. Everything I possess, my being, life, understanding, will, and memory – all were given me by God, so all belong to him.
Twenty short years ago, all that I see around me was already here. Everything was proceeding in its appointed way under the watchful eyes of divine providence. And I? I was not here. Everything was being done without me, nobody was thinking of me, nobody could imagine me, even in dreams, because I did not exist. And you, O God, with a wonderful gesture of love, you who are from the beginning and before all time, you drew me forth from my nothingness, you gave me being, life, a soul, in fact all the faculties of my body and spirit; you opened my eyes to this light which sheds its radiance around me, you created me.
So you are my Master and I am your creature. I am nothing without you, and through you I am all that I am. I can do nothing without you; indeed, if at every moment you did not support me I should slip back whence I came, into nothingness.
SAINT JOHN XXIII