Bulletin 193 - September 2/September 15, 2002
September 2/15, 2002
Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
He (Abba Poemen) also said, "Many become powerful, but few eminent."
Now behold, one came and said to Him, 'Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?' So He said to him, 'Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.' He said to Him 'Which ones?' Jesus said, 'You shall not murder, 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 these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?' Jesus said to him, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.' But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.' When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, 'Who then can be saved?' But Jesus looked at them and said to them, 'With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'
The present Gospel message is an encounter between Jesus Christian and a young man. The focus is on life as Jesus would have us to see it and live it. It is a lesson on eternal life.
Jesus put emphasis on the commandments: honoring of parents, love of neighbor, not lying, not stealing, not committing adultery, not murdering. Jesus went further in telling the young man to sell all that he had, give to the poor and follow Christ. These are Jesus' directions for perfection.
Adherence to the commandments, following them daily, still has complete value, centuries later. The passage of time and the seeming increase in the pressures and complexities of daily life has not lessened the value of following the commandments.
The quality of life improves each time a person moves to adhere more closely to the commandments. Jesus went further. He set the standard for perfection. The young man was to move away from attachment to worldly things to following Christ completely.
Blessed Theophylact commenting on the present Gospel said: "As long as a man is rich and he has in excess while others do not have even necessities, he can in no way enter the kindgom of heaven."
When the riches are shed, the man can go forward. The wide range of living in the world comes to mind. The great excesses we hear of daily of those in corporate power and the plight of people in poverty are cause for great wonder.
We must examine our own lives in regards to the following of the commandments and in being captivated by certain possessions. Worldly goods and activities that deter or hinder us from following Christ must be put aside if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Each day is an opportunity to draw nearer to Christ, an opportunity to live in greater conformity with His teachings. Blessed Theophylact tells us that as we reduce our excesses, and cease the greed that can consume us, God will help us along the way.
The Gospel lesson is for each of us. The joy of the kingdom is for each person seeking it and choosing to follow Christ. The current Gospel message ends with the message of hope: When the disciples asked "Who then can be saved?", Jesus replied "…with God all things are possible."
If each person, one by one, began to live more consistently with the teachings of Christ, the world would improve. We control only ourselves. We have no control over others.
The actions of God in the lives of those who follow Him are noticed. They become convincing for those who desire a better life. Material possessions and activities that are not of God do not bring the fulfillment or peace desired by the soul.
Lasting rest and lasting peace are only from God. When we realize our life was created by God and is only well nourished when we look to God, we move closer to following Him more completely.
The Holy Gospel and the Holy Body and Blood of Christ provide for believers the experience of Christ. The Holy Gospel and the Holy Body and Blood of Christ feed the hungry throughout the world. The Holy Gospel and the Holy Body and Blood of Christ nourish each serious believer coming with the fear of God and with faith.