Monday homily of the 20th week in Ordinary Time Cycle I (1)

Monday homily of the 20th week in Ordinary Time Cycle I

Theme: Love God, love your neighbour

By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

 

Homily for Monday August 16 2021

Mt 19:16-22

Now someone approached him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother’; and ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
“He went away sad, for he had many possessions.”

This is both sad and puzzling. The young man was in high spirits when he asked the Lord: “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He was even more elated as he claimed to have followed all the commandments since his youth. But at the end of the encounter, he went away sad. What happened? It may also puzzle us because he had many possessions. How can a man, with his youth, energy and wealth be sad?

He is apparently a good man. That is why he is confident to the point of being presumptuous when he approached the Lord. He claims he has followed all the commandments since his younger days. For him, this was enough to gain eternal life. Obviously, his is a spirituality of the superficial and externals. He further asks: “What do I still lack?” From his demeanor, he is apparently expecting Jesus to answer, “Nothing more.” That is why he is totally surprised with the Lord’s answer: “Go, sell what you have and give the money to the poor.”

He went away sad. There are two reasons. First, because his conversation with the Lord did not turn out according to his expectation. He came to Jesus so full of confidence that he is certainly qualified for eternal life. He does not realize that the Lord is asking for more, for something more radical than just following the external precepts of the Law. He is truly frustrated.

And second, because he cannot detach himself from his material wealth: “he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” Paradoxically, it is his possessions that is the reason for his sadness. He should be happy that he is rich. But that is not the case, for he realizes it is what prevents him from following Jesus. He wants to follow Jesus, but he cannot because he is shackled by his possessions. In a way, we can say, he is possessed by his possessions. He is the slave of his riches.

This encounter with the Lord reveals the young man’s major flaws in his life. His unwillingness to let go of his possessions betrays his lack of trust in God. He trusts his wealth more than God. He is given the opportunity to choose. Unfortunately for him, he chose wealth instead of God, the world instead of heaven. It is money that he worships, not God. In effect, he cannot follow the commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your soul, heart, mind and strength.”

And second, he has no real concern and compassion for the poor. He is unwilling to take out a single penny from his fat bank account to help the poor. For him, his money is more valuable than the life and welfare of the needy. He is definitely a selfish person. In effect he cannot follow the commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

In short, he is disqualified from entering the heavenly kingdom because of his inability to love God and neighbor. May this lesson always remind us that the essence of our life as Christians, the way to real happiness and lasting treasures and the key towards eternal salvation is love. Let us ask the Lord to give us a strong faith so that we may be ready to leave behind the world and its empty promises and be truly free to follow Jesus to His eternal Kingdom.

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

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