28th Sunday in Ordinary Time: "Purity of Contentment"
Amos 5: 6-7; 10-15
Psalm 90: 12 – 17
Hebrews 4:14 – 16
Mark 10: 17 – 27
We are living in an hour where God is going to manifest Himself in a mighty way. We are living in an age where heaven is going to be manifested on the earth just before the Lord Jesus Christ comes. We are going to see what heaven is going to be like especially through the Church, and for this to be able to happen without really dying because of the excess glory that is around. We need to be able to come to a relationship with God. He must become much more important to us than the things that He is blessing us with.
We have received God’s blessings. We enjoy the blessings of God, but there must come a time when we want more of Him instead of the blessings of God. He is not ever going to stop. He is not ever going to slow down to pour out His blessings upon us. Jesus Christ says, “It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” It gives God delight to be able to give things to us, to be able to bless us with everything, but what God wants for us is to want Him more than what He can give to us. When we want Him more, God can entrust us with more.
The Holy Scripture tells us that the wealth of the wicked is laid up for the just. There is going to be a wealth transfer. For many in the world, they have abused this, and it was never God’s intent for the wealth of the world to be able to finance the evils of the world. What God wants is for the wealth that He has placed here to be able to flow into His kingdom. God will transfer the wealth to those who would prove to Him that He is more important than the wealth that He will placed in our hands. Before our hands could possess the wealth that God is going to transfer, God must first possess our hearts. God has given Himself completely to us, but we are to give ourselves completely to Him.
We can say that He is our God. God said, “I am your God. I am giving you the right to possess Me. You can call Me, “My God.” Sometimes, we use this in a very flippant way saying, “Oh my God!” but it is a very strong statement if we would say it with our heart. Can God really say, “You are My people?” David said, “I see the stars, I see the moon, I see your creation. I am awed by your creation, but what is man that Your mind is full of us?” God loves us. God loves His creation, and He wants His creation to love Him back. We know that God is Someone who pursues us. He is a God who comes after us. Jesus is portrayed as the Good Shepherd, and we know that a shepherd goes after the sheep that are astray. He goes after us, but the pursuer also wants to be pursued.
In Amos, it says, “Seek the Lord that you might live.” In Scriptures, God tells us many times to seek Him, to pursue Him, and basically, when we do that, it delights the heart of our Father. Many times, we are faced with a decision, “What are we going to do?” It is like the decision of the young Solomon before he became a king. In a dream, God comes to him, and tells him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” Solomon asked for riches, the defeat of his enemies and God gave him these things. The young Solomon said, “ I am still too young. I don’t know how to govern the people. I don’t have the experience. I don’t have the savvy, the training, but You made me a king over this great people of Yours. Give me a heart of wisdom that I might rule and govern Your people well.”
Basically, the young Solomon was asking, “Lord, I want to serve You by serving Your people well.” He wasn’t thinking about himself. God came to him saying, “What do you want Me to give to you?” God was so pleased with his answer saying, “Because that is what you asked for, I will give you what you asked for. There will be no other king that will be wiser than you. Not only that, I will give you what you did not ask for.” God can’t help Himself. He is love and He is good. He has given of Himself to us. What God wants from us is to want Him more than the things that He is able to give to us.
The gospel today tells us that nothing should really hinder us from following the Lord. “17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life. Jesus was not denyingthat He was good or that He was God. During this particular culture, good was only associated with God. Jesus was trying to connect the man to the goodness of God. Jesus said portions of the commandments and He also wanted the young man to think of the goodness of God and see the reason why he has been blessed with so much. It was not so much because of his own goodness that he earned the blessings of God for Himself. The rich young ruler at his age already made his fortune. Normally, when people make their fortune, what do they think of? Expand their enterprise? Get to do what they want to do? Buy the stuff they want to be able to buy? Set up corporations that they would like to set up or form a group where there would always be ever increasing income and profits. The young ruler was rich and the world was before him, and yet, he was asking or seeking for the eternal things. He was thinking about eternal things or spiritual things, and this is very rare for people who are already rich in the world.
The book of James says, “The poor are rich in faith.” They had no choice but to believe God. For someone who has everything already, it now becomes a choice for the young man to seek eternal things. He might be someone who was familiar with the laws of inheritance and the legalities of these things. The amazing thing was him saying, “Lord, I just don’t want to know about this practical, legal, worldly things that I am familiar with. I want to know about spiritual principles. I want to know about eternal values. I want to know about the world that I cannot see.” This is very rare for someone who is already rich. For some, we don’t find them in churches because they don’t have time.
18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” We see that Jesus started from the second half of the commandments. Why didn’t He say the first half of the commandments? It would really have brought conviction for this rich young ruler, but Jesus wanted to encourage him. Probably, this young rich ruler loved God. How many of us can say that we love God? But how can we really say that we love God perfectly? We would debate or argue with someone just to say that we love God or we do things for the love of God. The young rich ruler loved God, but his love was not perfected. Probably, this man was quite successful in doing the commandments because he replied, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”
The reaction of Jesus was, “21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him.” Jesus did not say, “Oh, you are a fake.” Jesus refrained from giving the commandments that the rich young ruler was having a conflict with. The Bible says that when we begin to obey God, the blessings of God come flowing into our lives. If we are faithful to the covenant of God, then, the blessings of the covenant come into our lives. Heed Him and follow Him, then these blessings will come upon us and overtake us. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Follow the way God operates, then, all the other things will be added unto us.
The Lord is not against us possessing possessions. The Lord is against possessions possessing us. None must possess us except God Himself. When God possesses us completely, He can entrust us with the other riches. I believe that this rich young rulerbecame successful because he was obedient to God at least in this particular area. Was his obedience, his love for God perfected? Probably, just like you and me, we love God, but we can’t say that we love Him perfectly. There might be other areas in our lives that we need to fix, just like the rich young ruler. When he said, “From my youth, I have done these things,” the Lord did not contradict him. The Lord did not say, “You are lying.” The Lord did not say, “You are pretending, “but He loved him.
The Lord said this one particular thing, “One thing you lack.” While I was looking at this, I said, “Wow, he only lacked one thing. I lack a lot of things like my attitude towards a person or I need to improve on some things.” I can’t say that the Lord will say to me, “There is only one thing that you lack.” How many of us can say that the Lord can say this one thing to us? Can we say that if we can do this one thing, then, we can be perfected already?
The young man was almost there, but he lacked one thing. He was upright; walking in the ways of justice; he had an honor for God; he obeyed the law of God, and he saw the blessings of God. He understands the blessing of God and that God is the Source. But then, he comes to the Lord and says, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life.”
The Lord said to him, “ One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Why did the Lord ask this of him? Mary and Martha had a house and the Lord didn’t ask them to sell it. Peter and the other disciples had a fishing enterprise, but the Lord did not ask them to give up their business. When He saw Matthew, a tax collector, he didn’t say to leave all his things. He just said, “Come,follow Me.” It was Matthew’s choice that he left what he did. Jesus did not ask the others to sell their possessions, so why is He now asking this of the rich, young ruler?
It is possible that after we enjoy the blessings of God, we become so used to the blessing that we don’t understand that our heart is being possessed by the possessions that we have earned from the Lord. Sometimes, this happens if we are not careful. This is why the Scriptures tell us to guard our hearts for out of our hearts flow the issues of life.
St. Paul did not ask this of the people. He told Timothy, “Tell the rich people of your congregation not to be haughty, but to give generously, to share what they have.” He did not ask them to sell all that they had. We know that St. Paul would not go against Jesus Christ. He wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me and the life that I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and who gave Himself for me.” St. Paul would never come against the teaching of Jesus.
The rich young ruler may have captured all the things in his life; he still loved, but probably not all of his heart. The young man is not alone because we might have his riches, but we might have his imperfect love in us. He needs fixing; we need fixing also. God wants a relationship that is not hindered by anything. With the rich young ruler, it is hindered by his riches. I ask you: what hinders your relationship with God? It is easy to say, “I am not rich, and this doesn’t hinder me.” If we give ourselves completely to God, we might think that we will not be accepted by our friends. It may be a career or a dream, and if we follow God, we might be afraid to give up these things.
God was not dealing with the young ruler’s wallet, but his heart. His situation, his problem is not so different from us. What hinders us from fulfilling a relationship with God? What is it that is stopping us to say “Yes” to God all the way? Is it peer failure or to look like a fanatical to our friends? Is it a habit that we can’t give up for the things of God? What is that one thing that we lack?
I would like to imagine myself being able to say, “If that is what You are asking for, Lord, I will go for it.” It is easy for me to say this because I don’t have the riches of the young ruler. I don’t have his bank accounts or the things that he has. Whatever it is that is keeping us back, the question is: what is the thing that is keeping us back from fully accelerating in our relationship with God? This is the thing that we lack.
We need to surrender to the Lord our God. We had that born-again experience where we were willing to do everything for God. It was our first love. What has changed? I remember before that preaching could go on for forty-five minutes to one hour and we thought it was enough. Now, we are arguing that it should be twenty-minutes only. It is very refreshing to visit our brethren from Europe because of their love for God. When they were starting, they had Bible Studies every night. Now, they are a Church. When I got there a few years back, I was so surprised because they asked me if we could do the same things that we did before. I underestimated their hunger for God and His word. Our hours for the Bible Study increased. When it came a time for our group to leave for another city, they asked us what arrangements could they do just so to extend our stay? They were willing to pay the hotel accommodations and the cost for the change in our itinerary. The reason was they wanted to hear more about God.
This was us, as a Church, before. There was the hunger for God. We wanted to know more of Him. There were no complaints of traffic and the inconveniences. Somewhere along the line, what happened? What took God’s place in our hearts? It is time to go back to this. God is calling us to Him now. This is an age where if we don’t have this intimate relationship with God,it will be so easy to get lost in the things that will be taking place. The book of Hebrews talks about certain individuals who will be able to taste the powers of the age that is to come. These are abilities that are not available now, but for an age that is coming, and because of our intimacy with God, we will be able to do these things.
Looking at the saints, St. Therese would ask a nun to tie a rope around her and tie it somewhere in the altar because at a certain time during the Eucharist, she would start floating in the air. Padre Pio was known to be present in two places at one time. These are just clues and glimpses of what is possible. It will blow our minds. Right now, in order to preach somewhere, we need to get plane tickets, but I know of someone who is able to go to a certain place without having to buy a plane ticket, and it is only working for some. What God wants is for the Church to begin to manifest this. It will happen when we have an intimacy with Hi – when He becomes more important with the things that He can give us; when He becomes more important than the wealth that He will entrust to us; and when He becomes more important than the things that we will be able to do because of Him.
We may be operating based on the anointing of God, but the day is coming when we will be able to operate out of the glory of God, but we need to be near Him so that glory will not kill us. The Lord is calling us in this day and hour to those things that are hindering us from pursuing an intimate relationship with Him so as to make Him our all in all. Whenever the time comes and we hear the Lord’s question or instructions to do something, we will not fail. He will be more important to us than anything else.