Jesus calls but the Rich Young Man refuses to follow. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Generosity so he can be more generous to the poor and by pursuing the Virtue of Vindication so he can motivate himself to be more accountable for his sins against the 10 Commandments.
20th Week in Ordinary time – Monday – Mt 19:16-22
After revealing the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the humble childlike, Jesus now encounters the opposite: The Rich Young Man. The Rich Young Man, supremely confident, pushes through the crowd, showing minimal respect for Jesus before impetuously asking what “good deed” would help him reach Heaven. Blinded by his wealth, the young man thinks he can “buy” his way into Heaven with “deeds” and self-righteously believes he is well on his way.
Knowing the young man lacks humility, certainly poverty and likely a love of God, Jesus coldly redirects him towards God, who is, ironically, standing right in front of him, and further deflates his pride by telling him to focus on the basics: keep The 10 Commandments. Disrespectfully, the young man, not realizing he is addressing God Himself, asks an impatient question, “Which?” To test him, Jesus mentions parts of The 10 Commandments that focus only on neighbor, and not God. The arrogant young man falsely claims to have kept “all” these commandments (who keeps “all” the commandments?), but fails to mention God, confirming Jesus’ insight about the young man’s stunted spirituality.
The young man, growing desperate and realizing something serious is still missing, asks Jesus what he still lacks. Jesus tells the Rich Young Man that if he wishes to be “perfect”, he must give away all his possessions and to “follow Me“, an invitation to give himself completely to God. The young man, attached to his worldliness and possessions and lacking true desire for God, refuses Jesus’ invitation and leaves in sadness.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Be awed by the Divine Knowledge of Jesus and how He uses Reason to attempt to draw the Rich Young Man towards salvation: Jesus, with Divine Knowledge, has a supernatural ability to read the mind and heart of the young man, knowing of his attachment to riches and the lack of a spiritual life; the perfection of Reason, Jesus first humbles the young man (Why do you ask me about the good?), then questions him and finds the young man does not mention God and finally tests/confirms the young man’s faith (to give away all possessions), which the young man fails; the perfection of Prudence, Jesus does not seek to convince the young man, knowing he is not ready to repent, and allows him to go away in sorrow.
Be generous to the poor from your abundance
Realize: Men living in modern societies enjoy incredible wealth, often times vastly exceeding the wealth of the Rich Man, wealth which extravagantly exceeds the very real poverty of the billions of desperately poor people around the world.
Believe: Reflect upon the Poverty of Heart (CCC 2544-2547, 2559).
Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Poverty, help me build the Virtue of Generosity (a part of Justice) so I recognize the abundance You have given me, I turn from personal greed and the desire for more material things, and I give generously to alleviate the suffering of those who are desperately poor.
Be accountable to God for sins against His 10 Commandments
Realize: The Rich Man’s false and arrogant claim to have kept “all the commandments” is because he had a poorly formed moral conscience that kept him from seeing the reality of his obvious sinfulness.
Believe: Reflect upon Christ’s Teaching on The Ten Commandments (CCC 2052-2055, 2075)
Pray: Lord Jesus, help me build the Virtue of Vindication (a part of Justice) so I develop a well-formed conscience based on Your 10 Commandments, I regularly hold myself accountable through a thorough examination of conscience, and frequently seek Your forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance.