18 August 2008. Monday of the 20th Week in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 24, 15-23; Deuteronomy 32; Matthew 19, 16-22
The readings today reminds us to put God first in our lives. It is all summarized by the Responsorial Psalm from the book of Deuteronomy: “You have forgotten God who gave you birth.”
In the first reading, God said, through the prophet Ezekiel, that he would destroy and desecrate the altar, the pride and delight of the people of Israel. Why would God do that? Because we are often distracted by many things, often quite noble and holy as the rubrics at mass, and forget God himself. Instead of giving our full attention at God’s word and worship, we devote some attention to mistakes. We may be so engrossed at our teaching, parenting, or charity work, but if we forget God himself, we lose purpose. In Canon Law, the sole purpose of the law is “the care for souls.” Meaning, all of our faith should lead us to our one and only love: God. By loving God and by encouraging others to be happy loving God, we care for each other’s souls.
The Gospel tells us that the young man has done all of God’s commandments, except the one most important: the giving of one’s life totally to the others and God. He couldn’t give all because he has many possessions. To me, he might be able to give some of his possessions — since he had obeyed God’s commandments — but he missed the point: giving all.
Pope Benedict XVI wrote a book, An Introduction to Christianity (Ignatius Press, 1990). In that book, he said that Jesus has two principles in his life: the principle of “the other” and the principle of “excess”. Jesus taught us to always love our neighbors in words and in deeds. But Jesus taught us that in loving, we must not give ‘some’ of what we have, but all of it. When He made water into wine, he filled all of the jars not just some. When He died, he gave all of His life, not just some of it. Thus, He asked the young man not just to give some, but all of His possessions. To surrender everything is the hardest part.