View all Gospel Reflections |
Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.” He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in Heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement, his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For men it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, I struggle in my faith to believe your ways will make me happy. It can be very hard to follow your commandments. Help me to know how to find the joy in being Christian.
- God Loved Us First: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” It seemed that this man was taking the initiative to approach Jesus, but actually Jesus is always the one doing the inviting. Mortal man knows that God exists because God has chosen to reveal himself to us. “By his Revelation, the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company. The adequate response to this invitation is faith” (CCC 142). Jesus invited the man to realize that he was addressing God but the man did not notice. He was focused on his own efforts. In the spiritual life, we risk missing out on God’s presence in our day when we wonder, instead, “how we’re doing.”
- Jesus’ Look of Love: Jesus knew this man’s heart–his weakness for possessions–yet there was no long list of faults or failures; only a look of love. “Our Head intercedes for us; some members he is receiving, others he is chastising, others cleansing, others consoling, others creating, others calling, others recalling, others correcting, others renewing” (St. Augustine). It was with boundless love that Jesus revealed the man’s attachment, softening the chastisement with a reminder of eternal reward: “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in Heaven; then come, follow me.” In retrospect, we now see that the rich man missed out on living side by side with Jesus as an intimate participant in his ministry. When we are tempted to cling to material goods, or our own way of doing things, let us remember this passage and choose to “let go” and follow Christ, knowing that he always gives the greatest gift.
- Faith: What would it have meant for the man if he had responded to the Lord’s invitation with faith? Think of the response of the Samaritan woman (John 4:4-29). She too was challenged by Jesus’ words but she stayed, talked with him, and questioned him, wrestling with the truths he was sharing. Her perseverance paid off. She received a profound healing and restoration of her broken life. Not only was she converted, but her whole village turned to Jesus because of her witness of faith. When we feel resistance to what we hear God telling us in prayer or through the teachings of the Church, may we wrestle with the call rather than “walk away sad.”
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, you constantly invite me more deeply into your life. In order to follow you, I often have to give up what I want at the moment, and sometimes I fail. Please forgive me, and draw me close to you so that I can glorify you. I want to please you now and live with you forever in eternal life.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will try to not focus on my efforts to grow in faith, but instead will look for opportunities to serve others whom you place in my path.
For Further Reflection: Meditate on the story of the Samaritan Woman in John 4.
Nan Balfour is a grateful Catholic who seeks to make Jesus more loved through her vocation to womanhood, marriage, and motherhood, and as a writer, speaker and events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope; a Catholic evangelization ministry located in San Antonio, Texas.