28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Simham)

by | Oct 9, 2021


We live in a world of desires. Some are good and some are bad; some are spiritual and some are materialistic. Good or bad, desires dominate our live. That is why someone said ‘life is nothing but a bundle of desires.’ And in the Gospel today we come across a man who is an epitome this statement. He seems to be a man of desires, apparently good desires, spiritual desires. He says to Jesus, “Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Huh! Look at this man; he is young and rich and what he is desiring for is not what most of our young men and women dream of today. Ask any of the young man and women today, what is your top-most desire or ambition in life. I am sure, for many it is not eternal life.

Anyway, it looks to be an unusual question for his age? Jesus answering his question says, ‘Follow the commandments.’ ‘Path of the commandments’ is the path laid down by God for you and me, so follow the path of the commandments. Young man replies, ‘Master I have been following these ever since my youth. But I am not satisfied with these. I want more.’ It is here he acts as a typical young man. He is not satisfied with the minimum. He wants more. Therefore he says ‘What else can I do. Is there a fast track.’ You know in airports, there is a common queue for passport clearance and there is also a fast track. That is for VIPs. Like that, this young man wants to know whether there is any fast track or VIP entrance to heaven. In other words what he wants to know is ‘How can he become a Spiritual VIP. How can he become a spiritual hero?’ Jesus loves this desire of his. He looks at him with love. He seems to be a potential disciple. So he says ‘yes!’ You can become a spiritual VIP. You can become a Spiritual hero. For that what you need to do is to ‘go and sell everything you have and give it to the poor and then come and follow me.’ Untie yourself from all those burdens that tie you down. Then you can fly high like an eagle in the spiritual realm. You can be a spiritual super man.

Here I would like to remind you about the life of St. Francis of Assisi. As a young man, living a life of comfort and pleasure he also had great desires like any other young man of our times. He wanted to be a winner, conqueror. He took part in an attack on Perugia, was taken hostage, and remained a captive there for a year. There, when he was sick, he realised the futility of all the worldly desires and possessions and ended up giving up everything, his right of inheritance and even his clothes to his father who opposed him. Exactly what Jesus is asking the rich man to do in the gospel today. As a result he possessed everything. The whole creation became his property, his family. Brother Sun, sister moon and stars, brother wind and air, and so on. Read his canticle to the Sun. He remains as one of the great spiritual heroes of all times.

In the same way, Jesus is asking the rich young man to renounce everything that is tying him down. If you want to be a spiritual hero; if you want to be a Spiritual VIP; then ‘Go, sell, give, come, and follow.’ That is the way. Hearing this, the enthusiastic young man goes away sad. And the word of God says, the reason why he went away sad was because he was a man of great possession. Not so much because he had possessions but he was possessed by his possessions. Referring to the condition of this rich man Jesus says, how hard it for the rich man possessed by possessions to enter into the kingdom of God; it is easy for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle rather than the rich man to enter into heaven. Jesus seems to be a bit upset with the whole thing. May be because this young man was the only person in the gospels whom Jesus called and he refused. All the others, when he called them, they left everything and followed him. But this man says ‘no.’ it is the riches that stop him.

Or it may be that the young rich man must have thought, he could buy anything everything with his riches, including heaven. We know that in our world it is easy for a rich man to be a worldly hero using riches. This young man wanted to extend that influence of wealth to spiritual realm. If I can be a worldly hero with my money, why can’t I be a spiritual hero too. When he came to know that he cannot buy spiritual heroism with riches, and he need to renounce them. He went away sad. That is the fate of those who trust in their wealth.

What about us. Where are we in our spiritual realm? Hero? Or Zero? For that rich man, his riches were the things that disabled him from freely following Jesus. For others like you and me who are not so rich there may be different attachments that prevent us from joining Jesus on the way. The cost of discipleship varies with each individual. So we need to ask ourselves ‘What is it that is keeping you away from following him today, What is it that is keeping away from becoming a spiritual hero right now????’

Fr. Showreelu Simham