St. Bernard, Abbot & Doctor of the Church

St. Bernard, Abbot & Doctor of the Church
Ezekiel 24:15-24  +  Matthew 19:16-22
August 20, 2018

“Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”

The young man in today’s Gospel passage knows that something more is needed.  He’s very confident that he has observed the commandments, but knows that he still lacks something for him to gain eternal life.  Jesus’ response aims for Heaven:  “to be perfect”, the young man must sell what he has in order to give to the poor, and then he must follow Jesus.

It would not be accurate to take today’s passage as a proof that every Christian must abandon all of his or her possessions.  Jesus was speaking on this occasion to an individual.  Individual members of the Body of Christ have different vocations, and are called in different ways.  Individual calls include individual ways of using or giving away material goods.

What every Christian vocation does have in common with every other is to seek “to be perfect”.  In fact, Jesus commands us elsewhere to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.  That might seem an impossibly lofty goal, were we not to understand the meaning of the word “perfect”.  From the Latin, it could be loosely translated as “to become what one is”, or in other words, “to become what one is meant to be”.  God is perfectly God without any trouble.  We humans, on the other hand, have lots of trouble.  God “designed” each human person, and calls each human person, to spend himself in love for others, and above all, for God Himself as the ineffable Other.  However God may ask you to accomplish this, give thanks for His call.