Petition: Lord, grant me spiritual detachment from material things.
- Are You Sure? Sometimes we ask for or desire something without really considering the conditions necessary to obtain it. We understand that most things cannot be obtained for free; nevertheless, in the spiritual life we easily forget this. What the rich young man asks for is the most valuable, the greatest possible achievement, but he thinks getting it will be easy. Maybe he was accustomed to being able to buy whatever he wanted with money. He probably didn’t even think that Christ might tell him to detach himself from his possessions. The fact that we could want something, but not want to do what is necessary to attain it, should raise a question: Do we really want it?
- A First Step to Eternity: Christ takes the young man’s question seriously. He doesn’t want to waste the young man’s time allowing him to think things are easier than they really are. Sadly, in today’s society people are used to seeking what requires the least effort. This is not the way of a true Christian. To get to heaven – and everybody should really want to – one thing is totally necessary: “Keep the commandments.” That means to avoid sin. God’s love for us precedes the commandments. When we love someone, we do not treat that person in any old way, but rather in a way that reflects the love we have for that person. So, we keep the commandments not just to follow a moral code, but to show in a specific way our love for God. This step is very important, but it is only a first step to heaven.
- Not So Sure: The rich young man had no trouble with living the commandments. Feeling confident, he asks for more, and Christ asks him to leave his possessions. He wasn’t expecting this. He went away sad, because he had many possessions. The problem is not having possessions, but that having many possessions makes us more preoccupied with material things than with “things of above,” as St. Paul would say (see Colossians 3:1). In the Gospel, Jesus says, “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).
Resolution: I will examine myself to see what commandments I am not living fully and detach myself from some concrete thing that prevents me from doing so.