And so we come upon him in today’s Gospel, the Rich Young Man. And we find that the rich young man is us.  He asks the question that we all ask: “What do I have to do to gain eternal life?”  Don’t we all want to have that opportunity, to ask Jesus straight up and point blank what do we have to do to get to Heaven, because of course, if we only had a clear straight answer, we would do whatever we had to do to assure ourselves a spot there. Or would we?  Do we really want to know what it will take for us to get to Heaven?   Did the rich young man really want to know?  Did he really want Jesus to answer his question? Or would he have been happier if he did not get such a straight answer from Jesus? You see a part of me wonders that maybe he really did not want an answer.  Maybe he wanted to stay in the realm of the intellectual exercise. Maybe deep down there was a fear that Jesus was going to say exactly what He eventually did say but at the same time could not believe that Jesus was going to ask him to sell all His possessions and give them to the poor. Yet he needed to know. He had everything else that he wanted, what did he have to do to “attain” eternal life?  So when he had the chance, he could not stand it any longer and asked the question.  And Jesus looked at him, loved him and answered his question.  But the rich young man went away sad for he had many possessions. Would he have been happier if he hadn’t asked, or if Jesus gave him an answer that would only prolong his line of questioning as he went away? But now he knows what he has to do-sell all his possessions and give them to the poor- but he cannot do that.  So what about us?  If we ask Jesus the question, Jesus would give us the same response. He would look at us, love us and tell us to sell our possessions. And we would probably walk away sad too. So what should we do?  Only we can decide. But if we are not ready to follow Jesus’ answer, then we’d better be ready to live our lives knowing that it is only the love and mercy of God that will get us into heaven and that we cannot attain it for ourselves.

AuthorCathy Remick