Concerning Sunday’s Gospel lesson for the 13th Sunday of Luke
In today’s parlance we have an expression: “never ask a question that you do not want to hear the answer to”. Well, we sure see an amazing example of this in the Gospel lesson.
Here is the Gospel:
18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none [is] good, save one, [that is], God. 20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. 21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. 22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. 23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. 24 And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 26 And they that heard [it] said, Who then can be saved? 27 And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. Luke 18:18-27
Before we look at the question, we must first understand what is meant when the young man approached the Lord saying, “Good Master”. Did he know Who it is was that was before him? The Saviour answers – if He were merely a teacher of the Law, He would be a sinful man, receiving the Grace of goodness imparted by God. St. Theophylact helps us to understand that the Lord from the beginning addresses the man as God, saying that only God is good – meaning any ordinary man is lacking.
The “certain ruler” as he is known to us, asks a simple yet profound question, ” Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”. Undoubtedly, many of us would ask the same question if we were provided an opportunity. There is more to this question that one might first think. For the benefit of this young man and those with them, the Saviour, the Knower-of-hearts provided what was written in the Law. He demonstrates once again that He did not seek to overturn the Law. Our friend seems to have been prepared for his as he provided a quick answer. It seems he was likely trying to justify himself. But the Saviour, proved that He knew this man’s heart. He continued with an answer that pierced this man to his very core. He saw the man ha fulfilled the letter of the Law but was lacking in his true understanding of the spirit of the Law. It is for this reason that the Saviour answered that man in this manner, “Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” Here our Saviour clearly reveals to that He is THE fulfillment of the Law.
The wealthy young ruler left, filled with sorrow. He tried to serve two masters: the Law of God, given to his fathers; and Mammon, and we see the result. Our Lord knows that we can only truly serve one master and this should be God. Our Lord was not directing this man into abject poverty, as some might assert, but He promised Him even greater riches. It is for this reason that our Lord addresses the man, “distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” Many are the examples in the lives of the Saints, perhaps nowhere as vivid as the life of St. Thomas, the Apostle, who taught the ruler to build up riches in heaven and setup store houses of treasure that will never corrupt – click here for more.
The question many would ask, especially in this day in which men’s heart have grown cold, does God need us to serve Him? Is not this God an oppressor? The answer to these critics is quite simple – our Lord knows what is best for us. The last words to the young man were an invitation – one that has been open for nearly 2000 years. Our Lord invites each any every one of us to exercise our free will and to deny ourselves and follow Him.
Are we ready to accept our Lord’s invitation?