Sell everything you own and follow me

The Gospel today comes from Matthew (19:16-22) in which a man asks Jesus what good deed he must do to have eternal life.

Fr Paul says if you look at Mark’s Gospel (10:17-22) you see that Matthew has adapted this story to make it even more significant and challenging. We know, from biblical scholarship, that Mark’s was the first one written and that Matthew and Luke depended on Mark’s Gospel to write their own, along with another couple of sources.

In this Gospel, the young man is a would-be disciple but as he comes to Jesus, it doesn’t start well.  The man comes up and says to Jesus ‘Master’ (the disciples have been using the title ‘Lord’ to address Jesus).  The would-be disciple then asks Jesus what good deed must he do. In the young man’s mind, it is simply about practical action but Jesus goes on to explain that the man’s whole attitude should change.  It’s not just about doing one or some good deeds and that’s it.  If this young man truly wants to be a disciple, he must radically change his life to be a follower of Jesus.  In the end, this man, even though he is a good man, is a man who has great wealth and he is not prepared to change.

The bottom line of this Gospel is that this man is looking to discover the secret of success. He is challenged to put his money where his mouth is but it is too much to ask. As we hear, the young man goes away sad.

For our prayer today Fr Paul suggests we reflect on this Gospel, and just changing slightly the young man’s question, ask ourselves ‘What must I do to possess eternal life?’