Monday of the TwentiethWeek in Ordinary Time

Wealth is an obstacle to discipleship

Now someone approached him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, ” …. 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. Mt 19,16-22

“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”. For many years, when we meditated on this verse of the gospel, we wondered how we could sell everything and give the income to the poor when you have a family and children to educate and introduce to life. And we also wondered who were those poor, maybe the ones we saw getting off the train in droves at Saronno station in the morning, with a cigarette in their mouth, and then scatter through the city to beg? Yet, Jesus’s exhortation is true! Today’s passage of the Gospel does not offer us poverty as the result of asceticism, but as a prerequisite to truly follow the Lord. It brings to mind Paul’s words: “(But) whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ. More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish” (Phil 3,7-9). We also think about the poverty of Francis of Assisi, to whom living like the birds of the sky and the lilies of the field allowed to communicate with the Lord and with all creation, with which he felt in perfect harmony, in a new and unique way. It seemed to us, however, that absolute poverty was only possible for monks and nuns. How can a family with its needs and constraints, experience – as Paul says – the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus? Perhaps there are other ways to achieve it, or maybe are those who, like us, have chosen to live a family life granted only an imperfect knowledge of the Lord? We feel that we still have to meditate on this page of the gospel, and probably we will still be thinking it over when our days are over. However, it seems that perfection for families can be sought in the direction of the simplicity of their living and welcoming the poor. For those who chose family life, this direction gives a form to the real face of faith, but, as it was for Paul, it is a long journey: “It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity,  but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ (Jesus)”(Phil 3,12).

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