If we take a close look at the man in today’s gospel, who asks Jesus how to get eternal life and happiness, then we can glean quite a lot.

He was humble; he actually ran up and knelt at Jesus’ feet before speaking to him. He clearly  had good motives because he wanted to know how to inherit eternal life. And he had good sense; enough to know that from what he heard of him Jesus was the right person to help him with this.

So he was nobody’s fool. What we usually remember about him is that he was rich. But it’s clear that his riches couldn’t satisfy his deep down needs. That’s why he came to Jesus looking for something that went beyond the grave. His wealth couldn’t give meaning to  his life. He was restless and seeking something more than the trappings that money can bring.

And of course it’s not as if he were some sort of villain who would find it hard to accept religion. He already was a religious person and a morally upright character. He said that he had kept all  the commandments from his earliest days, so  he had probably also fasted from food and  tithed some of his wealth.

When the other gospel writers recall this episode they tell us that the man was young and that he came from one of the leading families. So  by anybody’s reckoning he’s got a lot going for him: young, rich, reputable, religious, moral, thoughtful, common-sensed and humble. 

Yet he went away sad because the demands  that Jesus made of him were more than he was prepared to accept. The incredible happened:  God in Jesus told him exactly what to do in order to have eternal life. He had to give up all his wealth and give it to the poor. But this would affect his status, his reputation and his lifestyle.

What gives meaning to your life? What do you consider the point of living is? Where do you look for what makes real sense of your days? Where have you put your treasure? Is it invested in the here and now or have you got your sights on  something that will outlast this mortal existence? 

Being young, rich and even religious cannot  get you into heaven. And when Jesus tells you how to inherit eternal life do you go away sad  or do you start rejoicing?

Go and sell everything you own 


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