Grace to you!
You may have read the story of the man called The Rich Aristocrat in the bible. I love his honesty, boldness and openness to live life to the fullest. You may read his story in Mark 10:17-27, Matthew 19:16-30 or Luke 18:18-30.
The man was rich. He had all he wanted – comfort, connections, fame and security. By Jewish standards, he didn’t need anything from Jesus of Nazareth, the son of a carpenter who was a “non-aristocratic preacher.” However, there was something gripping about Jesus that drew the rich man to him. His wealth couldn’t supply it.
He approached Jesus and his first words, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life,” were revealing of someone who felt a deeper need than what he had. From what we know in the bible about the conversation between Jesus and this man, by the demands of the commandments, the man was impeccable. Yet, he knew within himself, having seen goodness itself in Jesus, that he needed to grow more. He wanted the fullness of life and true freedom.
The man’s story reminds me of the story of a young priest who was invited to pray for a group of millionaires living in multi-million dollar homes and driving very expensive cars. Dressed in an inexpensive cleric outfit, this poor priest, who could barely pay his taxi bill, brought so much peace to the millionaires that one of them said privately, “How I wish I could be like you. I have money but not peace of soul.”
Doesn’t the question about moral life, happiness and life after death confront everyone, even those who try to completely silence it? Like truth, somehow, in unexpected ways, it surges again and again. No liquor can perpetually sober it to oblivion. No political authority can table it for life.
All the various forms of “good” rules don’t satisfy it. The rich aristocrat knew this firsthand for he has kept all the laws from birth; hence he wanted to grow into perfection.
As Pope (Saint) John Paul II wrote concerning Jesus’ dialogue with this man, “The commandments … are the first necessary step on the journey towards freedom, its starting-point.” Quoting Saint Augustine, the Pope continued, “The beginning of freedom is to be free from crimes … such as murder, adultery, fornication, theft, fraud, sacrilege and so forth. When one is without these crimes (and every Christian should be without them), one begins to lift up one’s head towards freedom. But this is only the beginning of freedom, not perfect freedom…” (See The Splendor of Truth, 14).
What then is this perfect freedom? It’s in following Jesus, genuine discipleship, which enables us to discover fully who we are and our unique place in God’s plan. Such a discovery is liberating.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Monday Week 8 Ordinary Time of the Year: Readings 1 Peter 1: 3-9; Mark 10:17-27]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.