In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
It is not only awesome, at times it is frightening to
preach the Word of God, because the Lord said "By thy words thou shall
be judged." Judged, because if you proclaim God's truth and remain idle
and not the doer of what the Lord has commanded, and what you know well
enough to proclaim to others Ч then, how shall you stand before the
judgement of God? This does not apply only to the priest, but to every
Christian who is called to be a witness, an apostle, one that brings
God's word to the people who are in darkness or twilight, who need
divine light, and truth and life.
To-day's Gospel challenges us all so sharply. It begins
with words that may be interpreted in more than one way: "Good Lord Ч
what shall I do to have eternal life?" And the Lord answers, "Why do you
call Me 'good'? Good is only God". He does not say, "You are wrong". He
does not deny His right to be called good as God is good; and thereby,
to those who have ears to hear, those who have a heart capable of
perceiving the surpassing goodness of the Lord Jesus, surpassing all
human goodness, all human beauty and truth Ч it is a testimony: Yes, you
are speaking to your God, and it is your God that is to answer your
And then Christ gives us two indications. The one is: if
you wish to have eternal life, keep the Commandments. The Commandments
of God are not only rules of behaviour (although, of course they are
such), but as one of the Psalms puts it, should be in our inmost hearts.
It should be from the depths of our heart that we accomplish the
Commandments: not because we are commanded from outside, but because
they have reached us with the ring of truth; not because God has spoken,
but because with all our being we have answered "Amen!" This is true,
this is life, this is the way into eternal life.
When we hear Christ mentioning these Commandments Ч
where are we? Who of us can say that he was faithful to every word of
this short list that indicates that without which we cannot live? Where
do we stand? I, who am preaching, you who are hearing, because it is as
responsible to hear as it is to speak. How often do we think Ч as this
young man, and with how little reason Ч that we want perfection. We want
perfection without having first trod the road of the Commandments.
But Christ says to us quite clearly: "If you want
perfection Ч give all you possess." It is not only material things which
we can give: every one of us has treasures hoarded in his mind and
heart, in his soul, things which are more important to him than anything
material, that is his wealth. Each of us should turn inward and ask
himself, "What is there which is my peculiar treasure? What are those
things which I will not give away even for life eternal, for God?".
We do not put things in such a crude manner, but we hug
those things which are so precious to us, and still we hope that we will
enter the Kingdom of God, we will reach perfection, we will become in
all fullness what we are called to be, the kind of persons of whom God
dreamed when He created us Ч and it is not true.
In the Book of Revelation there is a passage that says,
"I have only one thing against you Ч you have forgotten your first
love". And this first love, indeed, for each of us, is the Living God,
Whom we call in so many ways: we may call Him 'Life', we may call Him
'FulfilmentТ, we may call Him 'Happiness', we may call Him by all the
names that mean that we should reach the fullness of our being. At times
we know that only in God it is possible, at times we imagine that we can
outgrow ourselves Ч all the same, this is our first love: to become as
great as God has dreamed us, willed us.
And we do not follow the Commandments because we think
that we can achieve it in a simpler manner; and we do not give away all
we have, that is: the only thing we are not prepared to give away, in a
hope that God will accept us, and our burden.
Let us reflect on this story. This is not even a
parable, it is something that has happened to a young man. It happens to
all of us when God says, "Have you been faithful to the way of life
which I have described to you in terms of commandments, outlined in
these terms as one can outline a road by milestones? Do you want to
attain fullness Ч start at that point." And if you are aware of having
been faithful in these things, then ask yourself the further question:
what is the treasure which I will not give away, even for eternal life?
The young man heard the words of Christ, and went away
sad. He had earthly possessions, but we have so many possessions which
are not material and which are our burden, our fetters.
And yet, there is in this story one thing that can give
us so much hope. Christ did not condemn this young man; Christ let him
go without a word of reproach, because what He had said was like seed
sown into the mind and heart of this young man. He let him go wounded at
the heart, puzzled in his mind, called to be himself by an act of heroic
will and surrender, let go of himself, as Christ said, give everything
away and follow Him. Where to? Along the road of human life on one hand,
on the other hand Ч into the fullness of life eternal.
When Christ says to us "Follow Me", He does not call us
to walk a frightening, dark road; He says, "I have trodden all this
road, I know every meander of it Ч you can safely follow! I am like the
good shepherd that walks in front of his sheep, meeting all dangers
himself, so that the sheep may be safe."
We all will go home like the young man, perhaps
saddened, that neither are we keeping the Commandments, nor are we able
to give away our most precious treasure: but remember Ч we will not go
condemned, we will have been faced with an ultimate choice, and as long
as we can struggle on earth Ч there is time.
But let us not be beguiled by the length of time: time
flies, time goes Ч let it not be too late, let us turn to life, let us
become all we are capable of being.
The answer to to-day's Gospel is so clear Ч "Who then
can be saved?" Ч To man it is not possible by our own strength; but to
God, all things are possible." That is our hope: God is with us, and
nothing is too much for us. Amen.