Did you already hear or read today’s Gospel from Matthew? What are we to make of these words?
A young man approached Jesus and said,
“Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”
He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good?
There is only One who is good.
If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
He asked him, “Which ones?”
And Jesus replied, “You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
honor your father and your mother;
and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The young man said to him,
“All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go,
sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad,
for he had many possessions.
Most of us have many possessions, don’t we? I know that I do. Frankly I shudder to think of how much stuff I have. Honestly, I have been trying to get rid of stuff. Six years ago I was a single woman with a house of her own. Five years ago I got married and had to move into a house of similar size (read: small) with a man and his daughter. A lot of stuff went away, but I still have way too much. Do you?
Another thing that gets me is when Jesus says “sell what you have and give to the poor.” *sigh* Wow. I had a garage sale once, when I was moving from Los Angeles to New York in 2000. I made a lot of money, it was very successful. No, I did not give the money to the poor. And I did not sell everything.
No wonder so many people, like the young man in the story, stay away from Jesus. We live in a culture that tells us to earn more and do more. That’s fine, but what do we do with it? Do we hoard things? And when we have so much stuff, where does Jesus find room?
As Catholics we don’t take every word of Scripture literally, but there is a message here. Can we hear it? Can we follow Jesus?