Monday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
(Judges 2:11-19; Matthew 19:16-22)
The rich young man approaches Jesus with arrogant self-confidence. He calls him, “Teacher,” despite the fact that Jesus has told his disciples not to use that title. He also talks about “gain(ing) eternal life” as if it were a stocks acquisition. He will learn that eternal life is not a business dealing.
Jesus quickly dispels the man’s pretentiousness. He tells him that only God is good; that is, only God is without sin. He also quotes from the “second tablet” of the Decalogue treating of relations with other people. He concludes the list of commandments with his summary -- a variation of the “golden rule.” Then he surprisingly equates gaining eternal life with “be(ing) perfect.” By this term he does not mean an obsessive perfectionism. Rather he indicates that one can learn perfection in his company. One finds eternal life in reorienting one’s life to follow himslef.
The rich young man is unwilling to make the sacrifice. He insists like the “Great Gatsby” and other egotistical literary heroes, to do things his way. Let us not make their mistake. Rather we should want to submit to Jesus’ way. Like him we are to bend to become humble, generous, and most of all loving. In short, we are to give of ourselves for the good of others.