REFLECTION FOR TODAY
August 16, 2021
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. Matt. 19:21-22
To attain perfection, we must not only keep the commandments but also sell our possessions, give to the poor and then come and follow Jesus. When the young man asked Jesus the question about perfection, he obviously knew something was lacking in his life.
It is evident that the young man sincerely wanted to please God, for he already kept the commandments. Jesus fully aware that as a seeker of perfection, this young man would never find the treasure he sought unless he learns detachment. So, when Jesus gave him the condition as reflected in our gospel reference today, he went away sad.
As Christians, do you want to be perfect? If so, then Jesus has set a high bar for such a goal. It seems that many followers of Christ are okay with simply being okay. In other words, it seems that it is rare to find a person who is wholeheartedly committed to perfection. Many may have good intentions, but it seems that there are few who fully commit themselves to all it takes to truly obtain the perfection to which we are all called.
Jesus’ call to discipleship is a call to leave ourselves behind so that we can love God and other people. The call can seem quite frightening at first to the point that we may be tempted to set limits on how far we will go in obeying his two great commandments. The idea of perfection can appear to be beyond us. Too often we can think, “I’m only human.” But as a human who is called by God, we are invited to work toward the obtainable goal of greater holiness. Though we will always fall short, we must strive to become as holy as we can, holding nothing back.
Though the invitation given to this young man to “go, sell what you have and give to the poor” is not a requirement that our Lord places on everyone, He does call some to do this literally. But for everyone else, the invitation still remains but in a spiritual sense rather than a literal sense. This is the spiritual call to interior poverty of spirit.
Every one of us is called to be interiorly detached from the things of this world in a complete way, even though we retain our possessions. We must have as our single possession the love of God and the service of His will. This depth of spiritual detachment means that God and His holy will is all we desire in life. Every day, we are blessed with opportunities to put this radical love into action. when we go out of our way to be kind to the person who irritates us most, or to be patient with those who make work difficult for us.
Reflect, today, upon the high calling to perfection given to you by God. Ask yourself in a very sincere way whether you are simply okay with being okay or if you want so much more. Do you want the greatest riches in Heaven? Do you want your eternity to be one in which the spiritual treasures you build up now are with you forever? Do not hesitate to accept this high calling from Jesus. Allow His invitation to this rich young man to echo within your heart as His personal invitation to you, also. Say “Yes” to Him and know that you will be eternally grateful you did.
Lord, You invited the rich young man to strive for perfection. You also invite me and all Your children to this holy and high calling. Give me the grace I need to detach from all that hinders this goal so that I can make You and Your holy will the central and only goal of my life. Jesus, I trust in You.