Daily Reflection
August 21st, 2000
Tamora Whitney
English Department
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Saint Pius X, pope - Memorial 
Ezekiel 24:15-24
Deuteronomy 32:18-21
Matthew 19:16-22

I’ve been writing reflections for the website for over a year and a half now, and the reflection I wrote for last August was for this same gospel reading.  Maybe I’ve come full circle, but in the last year I’ve changed my viewpoint somewhat on the reading.  Last year I talked about temptation.  The old testament reading was about following the commandments and then the gospel reinforced it.  Last year I wrote about how the Israelites didn’t follow the commandments, and God didn’t give them victory in battle, then about how this young man put his possessions before God.  When he was asked to give up all he had, “Hearing these words, the young man went away sad, for his possessions were many.”  I said too many of us would be like this young man, not willing to give up our possessions for God.  And someone who read that reflection wrote to me.   

Here’s a digression on that point.  One of the amazing things about writing these reflections is hearing from people all over the world.  Last month I got several wonderful notes from people all over the country.  It’s fantastic to see how far these reflections reach and what they mean to people.  

Last year a woman wrote commenting on that gospel and on my reflection of it.  She said, “nowhere does it say that he did NOT sell his possessions -- only that he was sad about Jesus' request.”  So I read the gospel again.  And she’s right.  It does not say that the man rejected Jesus and his suggestions.  It just says that he was sad, for his possessions were many.  How much more joyful is this gospel then if we can talk about sacrifice rather than selfishness.  Maybe this young man was sad because he had many things that he hated to have to part with, but he would part with them nonetheless because he was anxious to follow Jesus and his ways.  And because his possession are many, this is that much more of a sacrifice.  Someone who has very little has very little to give up.  But a man whose possessions are many has much to give up.  Maybe he worked hard for everything he had.  Maybe they were things he had saved up for, but all earthly possessions pale beside a “treasure in heaven.” 

The psalm for today says that God will respond to the people who act as if there is no god, by acting as if he has no people.  Only those who acknowledge God, follow his commandments and obey Him will receive riches on earth or in heaven.  Jesus says in the gospel that riches on earth are nothing next to the treasure in heaven, so sell all you have then follow Jesus.  Our young man would of course be sad at losing his earthly possessions, but just might do it.  He is already following the commandments and asks Jesus what else he can do.  And this is it.  His sadness at losing his possessions will be tempered by his joys and a treasure in heaven.

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