Monday, 2/27/17 – He went away sad for he was a man of great wealth

In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us the recipe for salvation. And it seems so simple.Thirty Pieces of Silver

Don’t kill. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Honor you mom and dad. Love your neighbor like you love yourself.

These seem to be pretty simple rules to follow. One doesn’t have to be a saint or suffer tremendously to follow any one of them. For most, it should be a matter of simply following your natural instinct to do the right thing.

And then we have the final ingredient of this recipe for eternal life. It comes in the form of a question from a young man who wondered what he still lacked in his life.

That’s when things got tricky.

‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’  But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.”

It is indeed sad when we cling to things in our lives that may give us some temporary earthly pleasures, but not the heavenly joy our hearts and souls long for.

But it’s not hard to  understand. We all have them, after all. Our vices, our passions, our addictions. Things we use like a salve on our wounded human natures … they make us feel good; make us forget the hard life; help us to escape reality for a while.

Problem is, they are poor imitations of the only prescription we ever need, which is to lean on God through prayer, spirituality and good works.

This is why we observe periods of fasting. We train our bodies and souls to remove those things in our lives that we are using to obtain our own version of peace, rather than relying on the true peace that is only possible with God.

Sure, we try. We try to pray more. Try to be spiritual. Try very hard to love our neighbors.

But we don’t always get it right. We slip. We’re human.

I’m always struck by this young man in the Gospel who is standing face-to-face with the One who can give him all the peace anyone could desire … but he walks away sad.

But then, we all do it. Every Sunday we are face to face with our Lord in the Liturgy. But when we leave the Church, how long does it take before we put Jesus back in the box and go on living a “life of many possessions?”

Some of us can hold out a few days, maybe even most of the week.

Others can’t get out of the parking lot without forgetting what just took place at the altar.

I am as guilty as anyone …

But I don’t walk away sad because of my possessions. Instead, I try to walk toward God … try to overcome the hurdles that keep knocking me down.

Humbly, I admit that I cannot do this alone.

Pray for strength.

Pray for persistence.

Pray for me … as I pray for you.

About the Author

Dan McFeely is a Carmel, Indiana, writer, communications business owner, book editor and a former professional journalist at The Indianapolis Star. A "cradle Catholic" who once felt the call to the Priesthood, he is now happily married to his wife, Sue, and enjoys spending time with his three granddaughters (and two cats). For the past decade, Dan has worked as an Adult Faith Formation Minister, currently serving as a spiritual director for the men's and women's Christ Renews His Parish program at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Carmel. He is a graduate of the Ecclesial Lay Ministry program offered by the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana through St. Joseph's College; and has studied theology as a student at Marian University. He previously studied journalism and political science at Indiana University. Currently, Dan loves to read and study the Catholic faith on a daily basis. He is particularly fond of the works of Thomas Merton and modern day scholars and theologians.

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11 Comments

  1. I may add. Simplicity and detachment are virtues and a way of to obtain a joyful life. Unconditional love and shearing our talents to our neightbors it is true felowship. Thank you Mr. Dan to love our lord Jesus the way you do by expressing and shearing his good news . I enjoy you meditation on today’s Gosple.Thank you to be a faithful and good disciple of Him. May our Lord always keeps you and protects your heart. Count that on daily mass I will pray for you.

  2. This is the most beautiful reflection on the story in Todays Gospel. Thank you so much for this great insight.

  3. Thanks Dan for that reflection. It is comforting to know that, “All things are possible with God.” As you said, we are too weak to detach ourselves from earthly things on our own. I think Jesus was inviting the rich man to step in the light of Jesus’ mercy, his saving Grace so that he could detach himself. A great challenge as Lent approaches. God bless.

  4. Hey Dan,

    Well, if we look at today’s Gospel reading, what jumps out is that Jesus only names 6 of the 10 commandments. The “Do nots”. What is missing is arguably the most important, the first commandment.

    As you know, in Biblical times it was thought that God rewarded the good and punished the evil. So if you were rich or poor it was because of your or a previous generations actions. So, the “rich man” is pretty much what a perfect Jew would look like in the time of Christ, he was rich and, at least from the outside, kept the commandments. Jesus knew he was missing something in the inside.

    To this day, being rich or poor is not a sin. Though we may want to place blame on someone or something for our condition. But, one thing has not changed, God is jealous. Keeping all the “Do not” commandents may or may not be hard, but it does not guarantee anything. Placing God first does.

    Thanks for the reflection.

    Mark

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