Many of us would have heard so much publicity of the Church especially in our time. Though there is no doubt that the Church has done so much good in and for the world over the centuries, there have been instances as well that the Church herself fell short from the ideals. Thus, we can understand the people who gave comments, criticised, or even stand against the Church because they wanted to know the truth. So at times, when I heard people putting the Church into a bad light through negative and even sometimes unfounded, unconfirmed and an exaggerated report, I just pray and hope in silence. My prayer is that hopefully these people who attacked the Church are really motivated by the desire to know the truth, rather than distorting the truth. Because if truth becomes the motivation, the foundation and the ground of doing things, then most things would have been put into real perspective. The Church being divine and human institution, fall short from the ideals because some of her children turned away from the truth, turned their gaze away from the Lord and shifted their focus to themselves.
But what really is the truth? Pontius Pilate was caught up with this question himself. This same quest occupies the mind and heart of the rich young man in our gospel today. He also wanted to know the truth of real security. He wanted to invest for eternal life. And rightly so, his desire to know the truth led him to Jesus. It is just right that he ended up in Jesus because the truth is not something, but someone. The truth is not ‘what’ but ‘who’. ‘I am the way,’ Jesus declared, ‘the truth and the life.’ (Jn 14:6).
If Jesus then is the truth, then we must focus on him, we must not lose sight of him because in and through him we can see the truth of things, we can see the truth of our loving God revealed in Creation. In him we can see the truth of ourselves.
However, sometimes we find it hard to accept the truth that Jesus brings about. As G.K. Chesterton wrote: ‘He not only comforts the afflicted, but he also afflicts the comfortable. We find it hard to accept him because he can be a ‘threat’ to our security. He can be limiting our freedom. Our friend the rich young man in our gospel today can attest to this. He had definitely found the truth in Jesus. Jesus offered him eternal life. He had certainly heard from him how to invest for eternal life. And he has realized his vast wealth can’t guarantee him of heaven. Jesus understands this, so he told him to invest it, by selling it and giving the proceeds to the poor, then to follow him. And only after then that Jesus assured him that he’ll have treasure in heaven.
Jesus has revealed to this man the truth of himself- that he can have heaven but he has to let go of his earthly security and baggages. But he refused the offer because he can’t let go of his false security. He declined the invitation. If only he had realized what he had missed. If only he had realized what a great exchange he would have got if he listened to Jesus.
Jesus is also calling us now to let go of our earthly securities and let him help us to invest for eternal life. Only through following him, with him and in him that our eternal life’s security is assured and guaranteed. This is not day dreaming. This is not wishful thinking. This is a true promise as Jesus himself would respond to Peter in our gospel. When Peter bluntly asked Jesus ‘What about us? We have left everything and followed you,’ he declared: ‘There is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, father…for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not be repaid a hundred times over…not without persecutions (though: as a concrete sign of his cross in us) now, in this present time, and in the world to come, eternal life.’
Yet, Jesus is not only inviting us to let go our false securities. He also asked us to give up of everything for him. What does it mean? Among millions of other ways of giving up for Jesus, this can point to us three initiatives.
First: Devotion to the truth. This means living out the truth of our Christian identity, thus witnessing for Christ in the world in our own ways, means, capacities and capabilities. This also means devotion to the Word of God that ‘is alive and active…[that] can judge the secret emotions and thoughts’ according to the Letter to the Hebrews, the Word, that testifies the truth of who really God is.
Second is Devotion to the good. This means acknowledging the good in ourselves and in one another, no matter what other people say. This also means upholding and promoting the good for all, not just for the privileged few. This is a crucial call for us today because of the many apparent negativity, injustices, and bad things happening around us and even in us today.
Third is devotion to the beautiful. This means upholding the dignity of each one and respecting the inherent beauty of creation. This is also another important call for us because there is a growing trend now for many that ‘you are only someone if somebody sees you’, or ‘you are what other people say of you’ mentality. There is also this growing trend to destroy creation and claim it as property of someone or a subject in science, or under control by someone.
To realize all these initiatives however, we need to pray for the spirit of Wisdom. Only the wisdom of God can teach us and make us see and understand the ‘truth, the good and the beautiful’ in our God, in one another, in our world. ‘In [the] company of the Spirit of Wisdom,’ the author of the Book of Wisdom declared, ‘all good things came to me.’
So as we continue today, let’s endeavour to keep our eyes on Jesus all the time. Let’s make this our prayer that we may love the truth all the more. Let us pray too that we may be always faithful in our following of Jesus by letting go of our earthly securities and by giving up everything for him and for the kingdom. Amen.