The story of rich young man challenges us at the dawn of this holy year of faith to look more carefully at how the young man approached Jesus and how Jesus met him.
The wealthy young man came running. He flung himself at the feet of the poor, penniless carpenter from Nazareth. The man calls Jesus, “good” and immediately Jesus stops him: Don’t flatter me! Jesus then leads him to the Father.
While at first, it seems that Jesus is trying to cool the young man’s enthusiasm, Jesus did what every evangelizer should be careful to do: point to the God. Often times we find a preacher who is exciting and fun to listen to; there develops a kind of personality cult around them. The preacher can forget his job is to lead others to Christ.
Jesus knows that this man’s zeal has led him to fall to his knees, but he should not fall simply because he was overcome with emotion. Jesus, the teacher needs to bring him along and help him mature in his faith.
Did you notice that Jesus only laid out the negative commandments that the young man excitedly says he has kept? Because Jesus realized this is where the man was in his life. This is good if you want to be a good citizen, a good person. But to gain eternal life, what more have you done?
The Christian life consists not in being just a good person; in just ‘not doing wrong things.’ The Christian Way involves ‘doing right things’, putting yourself out for others; drawing others in. In effect Jesus is saying to the young rich man, do the right thing, take all of your possessions, all that you have and are and use them for the good of others.
Jesus is asking us how much do you want to get to heaven? It may be respectable never to take anything away from anyone, that’s just being good. It is the Christian way to give everything to someone.
Jesus looks at the young man with love. Why? Because Jesus does love him and because He does so much, He wants the man to be everything he is called to be and to do everything he is capable of doing. Jesus looks at us the same way. He challenges us, He looks into our eyes and sees what we might be, what we could be if we accept His challenge to love others.
All disciples of Jesus are called in this Holy Year of Faith to consider their own relationship with Christ in the Church and to see in real and effective ways how that faith can become more attractive in a world that is learning what ‘life without God means:;’ to enter a desert of human experience, a void in real emotion, the confusion of irrational thought and alienation from love and truth.
The Church enters this desert in order to “rediscover the value of what is essential for living; to recognize a true thirst for God. The Church needs people of faith like you to be in the desert to look with love on those who have stalled their faith in emotion and lead them to a more mature love that involves commitment, perseverance and sacrificial joy.
It is the power and influence of the Holy Spirit that draws the Church to this moment of opening. It is here we can clarify our Creed with the knowledge and surety that these beliefs will embrace the whole person, body and soul. And, since he is a pilgrim on this earth, they will lead him always toward eternal life.
As a parish we dedicate ourselves once again to building up the faith in new ways with a new excitement and a mature zeal, given so generously to us by God, within our families and within our parish.
Meditating here at the Baptismal Font, we have come to recognize there are within our community Catholics who have abandoned the true faith, embracing other churches in order to find easy, uncommitted way to meet emotional needs. We have Catholics too who are in danger of losing their faith from a lack of perseverance in their religious practice; they have allowed material things to take precedence over the spiritual realities.
These are the challenges in King of Prussia. This holy year will be a time for us to mature and deepen the practice of our faith, and face straightforwardly these challenges, then go out, through this door, and proclaim Christ as Lord of all Life.
I say, “we,” because I cannot do this alone; I need you to walk with me, to run with me to the feet of our Lord and ask him, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
We seek on this day and in the days to come, a door to faith, a deeper faith, a converting faith, a faith rendered unto God Who looks at us with love. Catholics are increasingly vulnerable to secular and fundamentalist movements that pull us away from our relationship with God. This holy year strives to pull us together once again under the folds of the Good Shepherd.
This year will be a time to reflect more deeply on the gift of faith, by meditating at the baptismal font; by deepening our knowledge and understanding of the Catechism and the Documents of the Second Vatican Council; by reading, reflecting and praying with Scripture, by nourishing and strengthening our faith through the Holy Eucharist and finally, by becoming brighter lights to become ourselves “the door of faith” for others.
Let us go forth from this place and time; seeking God with all our hearts, knocking on the door of those who have lost their way; asking them to join us in Sunday worship so together we can find once again the unity for which we long and the communion He so desires.
Go out then, be a true and more mature Christian, don’t ever give the least, give the most and you will inherit eternal life.
“To Jesus Christ, our most amiable Redeemer, immortal King of peoples and of times, be love, power, and glory forever and ever. Amen” (John XXIII)