JUDGES 2: 11 – 19
In those days: The sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals; and they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; they went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were round about them, and bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger. They forsook the Lord, and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them; and he sold them into the power of their enemies round about, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies. Whenever they marched out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had warned, and as the Lord had sworn to them; and they were in great distress. Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the power of those who plundered them. And yet they did not listen to their judges; for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed down to them; they soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and they did not do so. Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they turned back and behaved worse than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them; they did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 106: 34 – 37, 39 – 40, 43ab, 44 (R.) 4ab
R/. O Lord, remember us with the favour you show to your people.
They failed to destroy the peoples,
as the Lord had commanded them;
instead they mingled with the nations,
and learned to act as they did. R.
They also served their idols,
And these became a snare to entrap them.
They even offered their sons
and their daughters in sacrifice to demons. R.
So they defiled themselves by their actions;
their deeds were those of a harlot.
Then God’s anger blazed against his people;
he was filled with horror at his heritage. R.
Time after time he rescued them,
But in their malice they dared to defy him.
In spite of this he paid heed to their distress,
So often as he heard their cry. R.
Matthew 5: 3
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
MATTHEW 19: 16 – 22
At that time: Behold, one came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, which?” And Jesus said, “You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honour your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have observed; what do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.
The Gospel of the Lord.
August 16, 2021
“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. (Matthew 19:21–22)
This is the conclusion to the conversation that Jesus had with a rich young man who came to Him and asked, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” Jesus went on to tell him to keep the commandments. The young man said he has done so from his youth and wanted to know what else he could do. So Jesus answered his question. But the answer was more than the young man could accept.
“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.” Do you want to be perfect? If so, then Jesus has set a high bar for such a goal. It seems that many followers of Christ are okay with simply being okay. In other words, it seems that it is rare to find a person who is wholeheartedly committed to perfection. Many may have good intentions, but it seems that there are few who fully commit themselves to all it takes to truly obtain the perfection to which we are all called.
It’s interesting to note that Jesus’ initial response to this rich young man explained the requirements for entering eternal life, that is, the minimal requirement for obtaining Heaven. Simply put, Jesus said that if you refrain from serious sin by keeping the commandments, then you will inherit eternal life. Of course, that also presumes that you have the gift of faith and are thus open to the gift of salvation. So is that what you are content with? Are you satisfied with doing the minimum it takes to get to Heaven?
The idea of perfection can appear to be beyond us. Too often we can think, “I’m only human.” But as a human who is called by God, we are invited to work toward the obtainable goal of greater holiness. Though we will always fall short, we must strive to become as holy as we can, holding nothing back.
Though the invitation given to this young man to “go, sell what you have and give to the poor” is not a requirement that our Lord places on everyone, He does call some to do this literally. But for everyone else, the invitation still remains—but in a spiritual sense rather than a literal sense. This is the spiritual call to interior poverty of spirit. Everyone of us is called to be interiorly detached from the things of this world in a complete way, even though we retain our possessions. We must have as our single possession the love of God and the service of His will. This depth of spiritual detachment means that God and His holy will is all we desire in life. And if He ever were to call us to literally give everything up, we would do it without hesitation. And though that may seem extreme, it is, in fact, exactly what will benefit us the most. It is the only way to become fully human and fully the person we were meant to be. And the end reward is not only the attainment of Heaven but an incomprehensible amount of glory in Heaven. The holier we become here on earth, the greater will our eternal reward be in Heaven. Do not hesitate to do all you can to build up that treasure that will be with you forever.
Reflect, today, upon the high calling to perfection given to you by God. Ask yourself in a very sincere way whether or not you are simply okay with being okay or if you want so much more. Do you want the greatest riches in Heaven? Do you want your eternity to be one in which the spiritual treasures you build up now are with you forever? Do not hesitate to accept this high calling from Jesus. Allow His invitation to this rich young man to echo within your heart as His personal invitation to you, also. Say “Yes” to Him and know that you will be eternally grateful you did.
My loving Lord, You invited the rich young man to strive for perfection. You also invite me and all Your children to this holy and high calling. Give me the grace I need to detach from all that hinders this goal so that I can make You and Your holy will the central and only goal of my life. Jesus, I trust in You.