28 Sunday in Ordinary Time
I have never heard a homily, or, for that matter, preached a sermon on this Sunday’s Gospel that I’ve been completely comfortable with. I feel uneasy about the rush to judge the “rich young man.” Sure, he walked away crestfallen. And then there is Jesus’s reaction to consider. The Lord’s teaching about wealth and worldly possessions barring entry into The Kingdom definitely seem inspired by, if not directed at, the young man. But there are so many questions left unanswered. We don’t even know the name of this guy who is such a provocative figure in The New Testament.
For one thing, I would like to know how he acquired his money. Was this inherited wealth or did he prosper through hard and honest work? We tend to place greater value on and guard those things we have earned through our own efforts.
I am also curious as to how he used his wealth. Was he totally and completely self-involved? Did he use his money to gratify appetites that are self-destructive or even lethal? We see so much among the rich and famous these days. Was it like that back then? Or, could he have been a philanthropist who was mindful of social justice issues?
It would also be interesting to know how he happened to become acquainted with and attracted to Jesus. Was he simply looking to hook his wagon to a rising star? Did he understand that Jesus was the Messiah? More importantly, did he know that the Messiah was destined to suffer and die and that His disciples were expected to pick up their own crosses and follow?
This young man certainly provokes many questions that we should ask ourselves.
A good starting point is the fact that we are heirs to the Kingdom of God because The Messiah did suffer and die for us. Do we fully appreciate, value, and protect this great gift of salvation? Or do we take it for granted, failing to show our appreciation by joining in the hard work of building The Kingdom of God?
How do we use the wealth of blessings gifted from God to each of us? Are we focused only on ourselves and satisfying our own perceived needs and unquenchable desires? Do we lack a sense of social justice and concern for those in need?
Just why is it that we pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ? Moreover, do we fully comprehend that discipleship, at its very core, involves embracing our own personal crosses, even while helping others to carry theirs?
This nameless young man’s encounter with Jesus provokes a litany of questions and an examination of our conscience. Will we walk away from this Gospel sad and crestfallen?