“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”
“Which ones?” the man inquired. Jesus replied, “‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'”
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad because he had great wealth.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Again I tell 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 the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.”
Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.GNT … The gospel reading of the rich young man (Matthew 19:16 – 26) is key, opening a profound truth to all of us. Follow the conversation: Christ is asked what good deed needs to be done for eternal life. Christ responds: maintain the commandments to which the young man says: that I have done what do I still lack? Christ then tells him the secret: if you want to attain life everlasting by yourself then sell all, give all and follow me.This young man went away grieving because he was not prepared to do this. So, the question – who can be saved? And the response for mortals: it is impossible for man alone, but for God all things are possible.
Look at Luke 17:7 – 10. Contemplate that reading and apply it to this gospel. Following the commandments, keeping the law does not improve us in any way as Christians. We can only say that when we have done all these things that we are commanded to do that “we are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.” In other words doing your duty is obligatory but what matters is doing over and above what is required of you.
Think of this: all of us today invariably keep the commandments referenced by Christ but does that mean that we should be saved because we do not steal or kill or commit adultery or bear false witness? No, all we are merely doing is staying within the bounds of the law. We are living lawfully but, are we living faithfully? Not doing bad things is no substitute for doing good things. If I’m hungry and thirsty and tired and you decide that you will not steal from me then how is my hunger, my thirst or my tiredness been alleviated by the fact that you choose to do me no harm?If you want to do over and above your duty then Christ tells you how – but how many of us can follow, what is to us, such bitter medicine?
Who can sell all, give all, forsake all and follow Christ? If you can, you are perfected but it is not in our nature to risk all – so we give a little and keep a lot, and we follow Christ a little and our rational mind a lot. That is why with man – and not just the rich man – but with all people salvation unilaterally is impossible but if you have the will then God will meet you, greet you and keep you if you rely upon him for salvation.