REFLECTION FOR TODAY,
August 17, 2020
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
“If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Matthew 19:21-22
The first commandment directs us to place God above all other gods. And yet, people throughout all of history have placed a higher emphasis on objects, others, and even themselves, to the detriment of their relationship with God. Let us take a moment to ponder how we are doing in placing God first in our lives. The rich young man walks away from Jesus in sadness, for he has many possessions. Is Jesus calling us to sell our belongings so as to follow him?
True, Jesus does call some people to literally sell all their possessions and give them away. For those who answer this call, they discover great freedom in their detachment from all material belongings. Their vocation is a sign to all of us of the radical interior calling we each have been given. But what about the rest of us? What is that radical interior calling given to us by our Lord?
It’s a calling to spiritual poverty. By “spiritual poverty” we mean that each and every one of us is called to detach from the things of this world to the same extent as those called to literal poverty. The only difference is that one calling is both interior and exterior, and the other calling is only interior. But it must be just as radical.
What does interior poverty look like? It is a Beatitude. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” as St. Matthew says, and “Blessed are the poor,” as St. Luke says. Spiritual poverty means we discover the blessing of spiritual riches in our detachment from the material enticements of this age. No, material “things” are not evil. That’s why it’s fine to have personal possessions.
But it is quite common for us to also have a strong attachment to the things of this world. Too often we want more and more and fall into the trap of thinking that more “things” will make us happy. It’s not true and we know that deep down, but we still fall right into the trap of acting as if more money and possessions will satisfy. As an old Roman catechism puts it, “He who has money never has money enough.”
Reflect, today, upon the clear calling you have received to live in this world without becoming attached to the things of this world. Possessions are only a means to the end of living a holy life and fulfilling your purpose in life. That will mean you have what you need, but it will also mean that you strive to avoid excess and, especially, avoid interior attachment to worldly possessions.
Lord, I freely renounce all I have and own. I give it to You as a spiritual sacrifice. Receive all I have and help me to use it only in the way You so desire. In that detachment may I discover the true riches You have for me. Jesus, I trust in You.