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A young man approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “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.


Alaina Lanik

This passage doesn’t exactly radiate reassurances, but to be fair the young man was asking some hard questions… "what good must I do to gain eternal life?” When asking that he had to know it was going to be no easy answer.

And then Jesus hits him with, “why ask only about the good?” At first I was confused what could he possibly mean by this? After some reflection, I understood this as Jesus trying to get the man to see that not everything in life is going to be good or fair in the journey to eternal life. There are going to be challenges, hardships, tough decisions and sacrifices made in order to get to heaven. Just look at the lives of the saints. I think he was saying that the path to following the “only One who is good” is not always going to be paved with good easy choices but often with difficult ones.

Furthermore, I always thought it was silly of the man to ask which commandments to uphold, I don’t think God would give us any commandments he didn’t want us to follow so wouldn’t it be all of them? But Jesus responded anyways and still the man pressed, well I do those already what more do I need to do? He certainly didn’t like the answer…

“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.”

To me this is asking, what are we willing to give up…sacrifice? However, what stops me the most when reading this is that Jesus says “if you wish to be perfect”… I don’t know about y’all but I actually don’t wish to be perfect. I think it sets me up for disaster. Do I wish to be like Jesus, yes. Is Jesus perfect, yes. But I do not wish to be Him, I do not wish to be God. What a dangerous thought right. I think it was arrogant of the man to ask Jesus this and it would be arrogant to presume we could be perfect. To put it simply we are not and never will be, but that is why Jesus came, so we still have a chance at eternal life. We have tools that can help us, a big one being repentance and reconciliation. We are not alone, Mother Mary is always there ready and willing to ask her son to help us on our behalf… we just have to ask and be willing to follow him. We have the lives of the Saints, the sacraments and special graces God gifts us if only we reach out and accept them. So although the journey may be difficult, we will never be perfect, we still have all we need to make it to heaven… no one said it would be easy, but nothing worth fighting for ever is.

Being Catholic is certainly not easy in our world today, but if you look at our history it wasn’t easy then either, we have to fight for our faith and we will have to fight to make it to heaven.

Response from: Fr. Michael J. from Australia. Yes, we all want to be perfect because the Lord Jesus wants us to be perfect. He even orders us: "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:8) Again, to be perfect is a divine command. That's problematic in many ways. One: does that mean you have to be a perfectionist? No. Two: does that mean you have to be God?! No and YES. No, because you can't; not possible. Yes, because whether you like it or not it is a fact that we as a human species have since time immemorial always wanted and attempted to be God and failed miserably; remember the Garden of Eden? The Tower of Babel? And presently don't we have the AI and the so-called "American Idols"? Are we not playing God by re-defining or rather re-creating what we are as as humans? Are we not making ourselves Gods by creating a culture in which a man could "be" a woman because "he" says so?! That just opens a can of worm! Three: God wants me to "be" God! Didn't He make Himself human in Jesus?! Jesus is God, completely God, and human, completely human. As we profess in the Apostles' Creed that Jesus is "fully God" and "fully man." In a word, God truly meant it when He orders us to be perfect like His heavenly Father. God became a man so we all could become god! That opens a second can of worms! Ultimately the real question is what does it mean to be perfect like God? What does it mean to be God? The only man who knows, really knows, is Jesus.

Ask Him and He'll not only tell us but make us like Him. That is the last can of worm we'll open for today.


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