Fr. Paul Mark contributes a blog reflection on the “Rich Young Man” of Matt. 19:16-30. The question is: from the perspective of a monk, what makes for true happiness?
“Do you remember the comic book adventures of Richie Rich, the poor little rich boy? He had “everything” but always lost out on the best things in life, hence he was a poor rich boy.
The gospel has its own version of this story of the man who had many possessions, who observed the commandments in great fidelity but nevertheless lacked one thing according to Jesus, that is treasure in heaven. In order to obtain this treasure in heaven Jesus orders him to sell what he has, give to the poor and then follow him. This “poor” man’s face fell, the gospel tells us, and he went away from Jesus sad because he had many possessions.
How can an encounter with Jesus leave a person sad? This would seem a contradiction in terms. Would not an encounter with the Living One who saves, frees and transforms me into a new creation make me with giddy with indescribable joy?
Perhaps this “poor” man was already sad, who found no joy in the commandments, whose wealth was a great burden and source of anxiety, who missed the purpose of his life as a child of God because he did not know he was loved and valued, created in God’s precious image and likeness.
Have I walked away today poor and sad from my encounter with Jesus Christ because I won’t believe I am loved and valued by him but prefer my sadness and anxiety to his gift of love for me?”
Blessings from your brothers of New Clairvaux!