Psalm 90: 12-17
I think, this is the saddest story we hear in the Bible. It is the story of the earthly wealth denying heavenly riches. It is a story of a man called by Christ. "Come, follow me," Jesus said to him. Just as He had called Peter, Andrew, James, and John on the shore of the sea of Galilee. Yet we don't know this man's name, because this potential apostle said 'no' and turned away. If he had said yes, what might he have achieved for God's Kingdom.
Jesus knew that he was a good man. As a faithful Jew, he kept the Commandments. He did not steal, lie, or defraud. He did not kill or commit adultery. But Jesus also knew that something was holding the man back. His possessions were the reason for his life. All his life he has worked hard to have a lot, or perhaps he was born into a wealthy family and had been falsely taught that the family's wealth would guarantee his happiness. The man thought that he was on the top of the society. Then he received a shock. True greatness was being offered to him - was he willing to change the focus of his life? Was he willing to step away from his material possessions? Evidently not. He left the Lord saddened.
Jesus looked at him, loved him, and called him to do something different, something more. Man was unable to accept Christ's call; for him, the price was too high. He turned down Christ's offer to follow him. He kept his worldly riches. He walks away.
Riches can be our stumbling block today. In the United States, we live in one of the richest countries in the world. Our personal wealth typically puts us in the top of the richest people in the world. We can easily be side tracked be money and comfort; we can worry about losing what we have. Without being bad people, we can all too easily forget the millions of people worse off than we are. Like the man, we can run to Christ today. We can all too easily say I want to follow, but then when it comes to action to actually following, we choose comfort, worldly trappings, gold and credit cards.
Our salvation, however, is a gift from God because everything is possible for Him. Christ's death on the Cross paid the price, the heavenly price for our salvation. God found a way to offer us entry into His Kingdom. The door to His Kingdom will never be closed; we are all offered entry. The only question is, do we choose to enter?
If we choose to follow Christ, we can expect to have to make sacrifices; we are not promised an easy life if we follow. We are not promised riches if we follow. We are not promised comfort if we follow. We are, however, promised the kingdom of Heaven, and it is in that Kingdom that we will understand what real wealth and riches are.
It takes real wisdom, wisdom granted by God. It is to realize that wealth and riches in this world are nothing compared to the love of God and an eternity spent with Him in His Kingdom. Our first reading tells us we can find wisdom like this through prayer - "I prayed and understanding was given me. I entreated; and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I esteemed her more than scepters and thrones; compared with her, I held riches as nothing."
That is why Solomon asked for wisdom. So, do we. We need wisdom to allow our lives to be so centered on Jesus Christ that no matter what challenges and even crisis, life throws at us, we will still keep growing in His love.
*(In fact, our Psalm today is a prayer for wisdom, a crying out of God's love and grace. With God's wisdom, love, and grace, you will be able to hear Christ calling you to follow Him. Constantly offering you a new opportunity to say yes. To not only do no wrong, but to actively do good, to be part of His Church, to be part of its mission.)
What is it that would destroy you if you lost it? I am sure that there is plenty that would upset you; like if a hurricane came through and your house was gone. But would you be destroyed if your house be destroyed? Would you wonder if life was worth living? I know most of you well enough to know that would not be the case. You love your family far more than your stuff. Your main concern would be with them. And you love your God more than anything the world can come up with. As long as you have Him, you have all your need.*
In a few moments from now, as we celebrate the Eucharist, you will have the opportunity to stand before Christ. Are you ready to ask Him as the man did today - "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" And when He tells you what to do, will you like the man sadly turn away, or are you ready to follow?