A young man approached Jesus and said,"Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?" He answered him, "Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. 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. Matthew 19:16-22
What must I do to gain eternal life? I am good, but Jesus replies with one better. Only One is good, but if I wish to enter eternal life I must keep the commandments. And Jesus goes on to list these commandments."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." Have we observed these? And if we have, then what keeps us away from having eternal life. And if we wish to be perfect, but perfect for us today is what others would say having a low self-esteem. But for Jesus it is selling all that we have and giving it to the poor, then we will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Him.
But we have a very hard time following the commandments, let alone selling the extra possessions we have. After all it is our comfort Jesus is asking us to give up. Not necessarily, it's just that he is asking us to not have so very much in material wealth, where it rules out lives. We tend to think along the lines that we need so very many things, when the basics are adequate. We end up following material wealth, not Jesus. It's like the saying keeping up with the Joneses. They have this, so we have to get that. Or collect more money in order to have a bigger and more beautiful buildings. We seek so much for ourselves that letting go and following Jesus is hard.
That's why in today's reading the young man went away sad, even though he followed the commandments, he could not let go of the luxuries that truly kept him away from following Jesus. What do we have that is in excess, that could be given to the poor.
I have nothing more to give, yet I still give what money I do not have. I have clothes that I still give yet I can not replace them. If I can give when I have nothing, then imagine all those who do have and do not give at all.