Young man Memling.jpgToday’s gospel is the familiar narrative of the Rich Young Man: “go and sell follow me.” It is clear in Saint Mark’s rendering of the story that the young man is good. He does good things, he does what any respectable person would want to do; the young man asks the right questions; he follows what the tradition lays before him. So, the man actually is admirable according to the measure of this world. But the measure with which a person of faith judges is very different because it is a given, and not achieved. There is one that the young man’s not able to grasp: the greatness offered to him by God. He lacks the capacity to accept that it is not about the human will in attaining lasting happiness. As we know, it’s only the Infinite that suffices in answering the needs of the human heart. As the psalm indicates, filled with Love, we sing for joy. The eschatological hope we live in is one mercy’s face is more beautiful than any of the temporal riches we can conceive of. Jesus offers the young man the possibility of greatness and not mere goodness; the Lord shows him the path to eternal life, not just the best way to get through the city; God hands him holiness and not the safety of existence.

Our Lord offered the young man, and therefore us, the way to unity and deeper communion with him here, and in eternity — but the ultimate destiny for each of us is heaven. The young man’s response is understandable but not acceptable. Greatness, holiness, is a superior divine gift than being good. What do you want? What do you seek? How do you live?