It was then that a young man approached Jesus and asked, “Master, what good work must I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus answered, “Why do you ask me about what is good? One, only, 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 do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell all that you possess, and give the money to the poor; and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come back and follow me.”
On hearing this, the young man went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.
In today’s gospel; reading Jesus asks a rich young man to give up his wealth so as to follow him more closely. Now, since Jesus did not ask this of other followers of his (Lazarus and his two sisters, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, Zaccheus, the rich ladies who sponsored his ministry) (cf. Lk 8:3), there was no doubt that the young man was enslaved to wealth. In other words, his wealth was an idol he worshipped. Because, at the bottom, an idol is anything you give your heart to, anything on which your life is focused—other than God.
But nowadays there are many idols competing for our hearts. Surely one’s career can easily become such an idol. Because in our times there are many people—men and women—who live for their career, for the money it brings, for the power and the prestige that come with a high-sounding title and position.
Whatever our idol happens to be, it must be ruthlessly discarded because it will always disappoint us eventually. We are made for God and nothing less will ever satisfy our hearts. “Our heart is restless, Lord, until it rests in you” (St. Augustine, Confessions I: 1).
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