Jesus meets someone with many possessions. This person knows how to be virtuous and how to love God. But he wants more, he wants to know what else he needs to do to love God and neighbor. That gives the Lord an opening. To be perfect, that is, to “be complete,” Jesus tells him to sell what has in his possession. Give it all to the poor. “THEN,” Jesus says, “COME FOLLOW ME.”
Now, the young man goes away sad. But how do we know that he did not think it over; maybe he does sell everything. Maybe he does give it to the poor and follows Jesus later…after a lot of thought.
Keep in mind that many people in first century Palestine believe that God blesses rich people. They must be doing something right since God blesses them with so many riches. But Jesus the Boundary Breaker says that this is not true. Many are stunned to hear these words from Jesus. Peter speaks up (as usual) and says that all of his disciples leave everything to follow— what will he and the others get out of this venture?
Jesus says, “eternal life.” St. Benedict says, “humility.” And St. Bernard of Clairvaux says, We learn how to conquer “pride.”