October 14, 2012 – Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Many of you are probably sitting back wiping your brow in relief. Finally, not being rich has its perks!
But the truth is Jesus is not just speaking to those whom we consider rich. His words today are intended for every one of us. They speak to the heart of the stewardship message, of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. We are called to detach ourselves from the things of this world and follow Christ, making Him our first priority and the center of our lives.
The rich man thought he had done all he needed to do. He was living His life observing all of the commandments. Yet, Jesus assured him that being a disciple of Jesus is much deeper than simple observance of the commandments. He doesn’t throw them out by any means. In fact, He asks the man to ensure he has observed them. “you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness” He tells the man. But then Jesus continues, “go, sell all you have, and give it to the poor… then come, follow me” (gospel).
And the man went away sad. He could not detach himself from His earthly things. He could follow the minimal requirements (observing the commandments), but when Jesus asked for his all, he could not give it.
Indeed, Christian discipleship is a radical calling. As disciples, every one of us is called to give everything we have – our time, our talents and our treasure, our very lives – to follow Christ. And it is hard to do. We have to focus on Christ, to remember He is whom we live for. We do not live for ourselves. Our lives our not our own. They are the Lord’s, and we belong to Him – everything we have and everything we are.
For most of us, being a disciple of Christ does not require that we literally give away all of our possessions and our money, though for some that is Christ’s calling, but it does mean that we detach ourselves from all we have, that we recognize the rightful place of our material possessions, using them to serve the Lord and not allowing them to enslave us with an unhealthy attachment to them.
God has blessed us with so many good gifts, our material possessions included, and we are called to use them to serve Him, to help build His kingdom, to give Him the glory. When we look at our possessions in that way, we are more apt to give, both of our things and of ourselves. When we recognize their rightful place, our money and possessions do not have a hold on us. In fact, giving of them, giving of ourselves, becomes very fulfilling.
If Jesus approached you today, and, like the rich man, asked you to give all you have to follow Him, could you do it?
The fact is, He is asking you to do just that. We are all called to be Christ’s disciples, to give everything of ourselves and follow Him. Our whole lives and all that we have come by way of gift from the Lord, and as His disciples, we are called to put it all at His service. It is hard. It is radical. It is extreme. And it is richly rewarding.
“Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come” (gospel).