THE SERVANT GENERAL
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
IF YOU WISH TO BE PERFECT
Today’s gospel: Matthew 19:16-22
We all desire to make it to heaven, “to gain eternal
life” (v.16b). What must we do? Jesus says, “If
you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
(v.17b). We are to obey God and His ways. What this does is
it makes us good persons who will make it to heaven.
Jesus desires more for us. The rich young man desired more
too. He said to Jesus, “All of these I have observed.
What do I still lack?” (v.20). He sensed there was more.
And he was right. Beyond goodness, beyond obedience to God’s
commands, beyond growing in holiness, there is perfection.
then said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell
what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure
in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (v.21). What constitutes
perfection, beyond keeping God’s commandments?
First, total detachment. This can be literal, as in the case
of St Francis of Assisi, who gave up everything he had, including
the very clothes on his back. For most of us, it means complete
detachment from material things. We can own and use things,
but we can let go at any moment. We live simple lives. We
do not indulge in wants.
justice to the poor. Poverty is due to sin (no, not of the
poor, but of the rich). God created a bountiful world, with
enough for all. Poverty is the antithesis of how it should
be in the Kingdom of God on earth. The poor then are entitled
to some of the goods that we possess. We are stewards of these
goods, intended by God to be used by us for the good not just
of ourselves but of others. We give to the poor what is their
Third, following Jesus. This is not just by being a Christian,
but a total and wholehearted commitment to him. It is being
willing to sacrifice anything for his cause. It is walking
his path of holiness. It is being totally focused on the mission
entrusted to us by the Father. It is following him all the
way to the cross.
you wish to be perfect? Actually, while perfection remains
as our option (we can make it to heaven by being good), Jesus
does want us to be perfect. He said, “So be perfect,
just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48).
Jesus loves us so much that he wants the ultimate for us.
He wants us not only with him in heaven, but he wants us to
have treasure in heaven.
the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for
he had many possessions.” (v.22). Why is the giving
away of everything so important for perfection? It is because
of a fundamental reality: “No one can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted
to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
(Mt 6:24). Mammon or wealth is a possessive master. Its tendency
is to draw us away from God, or at the very least, restrain
us from going deeper into God’s embrace.
is why Paul warns us about desiring wealth. “Those who
want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap
and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them
into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root
of all evils” (1 Tm 6:9-10a). What is the antidote?
“If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with
that.” (1 Tm 6:8). Have a simple lifestyle. Do not pursue
more and more.
better yet, sell what you have and give to the poor.