If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when? - Rabbi Hillel
Gospel text (Mt 19:16-22): A young man approached him and asked, «Master, what good work must I do to receive eternal life?». Jesus answered, «Why do you ask me about what is good? Only one is Good. If you want to enter eternal life, keep the commandments». The young man said, «Which commandments?». Jesus replied, «Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself». The young man said to him, «I have kept all these commandments, what is still lacking?». Jesus answered, «If you wish to be perfect, go and sell all that you possess and give the money to the poor and you will become the owner of a treasure in heaven. Then come back and follow me». On hearing this answer, the young man went away sad for he was a man of great wealth.
Today, the liturgy of the Word submits to our consideration the famous passage of the rich young man, that young man that did not succeed in reacting to the eye-beaming look Jesus Christ cast at him (cf. Mk 10:21). John Paul II reminds us that we can recognize in that young man all those that approach Jesus Christ by asking him about the meaning of their own lives: «Master, what good work must I do to receive eternal life?» (Mt 19:16).
How many ask themselves that same question! If we look around us, we may think there are not that many who can see beyond, or, perhaps, that the 21st century man does not need that type of questions, being the answers are not good enough for him. Jesus answers him: «Why do you ask me about what is good? Only one is Good. If you want to enter eternal life, keep the commandments» (Mt 19:17).
For some, or for many —it does not really matter— now a days it may seem impossible “to be good”... Or it may seem something with little sense: a piece of nonsense, in fact! But, today, as well as twenty centuries ago, Jesus Christ keeps on reminding us that to enter eternal life we must keep the Commandments of the Law of God.
But Jesus’s message is that things are far from being that simple, because we have “positive” duties too; most especially to have compassion for those who weren’t born into circumstances as comfortable. It’s not good enough to pass by the less fortunate without lending a helping hand and feeling compassion. Who on Judgment Day will be viewed as worse? The beggars and prostitutes who were trying to feed their families the only way they knew how or the rich who walked by them and sneered in contempt and did nothing to help? We know the answer Jesus gave because of His words how He spent his earthly time. Let’s all learn from His example.