Memorial of Saint Bernard, abbot and doctor of the Church
(Ezekiel 24:15-23; Matthew 19:16-22)
St. Bernard of Clairvaux might have gained fame as a layperson. He was very intelligent and came from a well-connected family. But unlike the young man in today’s gospel, Bernard chose to follow a path of radical discipleship. Wise and eloquent, he became the conscience of Europe advising kings, bishops, and at least one pope. His reward has not just been a significant standing in history but every true Christian’s goal of eternal life.
This gospel will trouble many. It calls everyone out of complacency. Jesus seems to challenge the young man with a call to radical discipleship because he so easily fulfilled the commandments. He indicates that if we are to enter into God’s realm, we must transcend our own expectations. Perhaps the anticipation of making the effort is more difficult than actually doing it. Once we give ourselves over to Jesus, he will support us through any trouble we encounter.