Today's New Testament reading is a familiar one to many of us, and yet it continues to cause us to pause.
16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" 17 And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments." 18 He said to him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 20 The young man said to him, "All these I have kept. What do I still lack?" 21 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." 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."
The young rich man thought that he had kept the law of God, and as a result, he wanted to be saved by the Law--not by Jesus. If the young rich man were righteous, he would have had no problem leaving his wealth to follow Jesus, for this is the 1st Commandment. But because he denied His Lord, Jesus turned him over to the law, and the young rich man went away sorrowful.
I'm reminded of St. Paul's words to the Galatians:
"For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them (3:10)."
"You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace (5:4)."
The young rich man went away sorrowful, but so did the Lord, for he knew that no man would be justified by law.
Let us not make the same mistake. Let us not cling to the fleeting things of this world, but let us "fix our eyes, the author and perfecter of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). Amen.