In last week’s gospel, Jesus blessed children who came to him and instructed his disciples that only those who accept God’s kingdom as a pure, unmerited gift like a child, who can point to no accomplishments of his or her own, will enter into that kingdom.
As if on cue, a man approaches Jesus in this week’s gospel passage, asking how he can enter God’s kingdom on the basis of his own efforts. He is a man confused about the meaning of life and his own destiny. Like a physician discovering an abnormality in a physical exam, Jesus immediately puts his finger on the man’s spiritual soft spot. He has many possessions and is inordinately attached to earthly goods. Jesus instructs him to sell what he has and give it to the poor. But he is unwilling to do so and “went away sad.”
Jesus’ advice was not primarily intended to support the poor, but rather to serve as a vehicle to help the man spiritually. In giving away all his properties and belongings, he would be placing himself in solidarity with the poor, by becoming himself completely dependent on God’s providence, like a child, for whom the kingdom of God is reserved.
Next Sunday, World Mission Sunday, we are called to offer our prayers and financial support to continue the mission of Jesus’ life-giving presence among the poor and marginalized in over a thousand mission dioceses. Through this special celebration, your support sustains clinics caring for the sick and dying, orphanages providing a place of safety and nourishment, shelters for victims of human trafficking, as well as the formation of seminarians and education of children.
Like the rich man invited to give up his wealth, our generous contribution to the mission of the Church will not merely help fill a need, but open our hearts more fully to the God who will fulfill ours, if we seek him like a little child.
--Father Roger Gustafson, Pastor
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