The Path to Perfection

May 27, 2024
Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop—Optional Memorial

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As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments…” Mark 10:17–19

Jesus addresses different people in different ways. He chastised the proud and arrogant who came to trap Him. He was exceptionally gentle and kind to the repentant sinner who came in tears. He spoke in parables and figures of speech to those who were curious but had little faith. And to those who came with openness, sincerely seeking the truth, He spoke clearly, lovingly and directly.

Today’s Gospel presents us with the familiar story of the Rich Young Man. Notice how this young man came to Jesus. First, he “ran up” to Jesus. This suggests he was very desirous to speak with our Lord. He also knelt down before Jesus, which points to his humility and reverence. Then he asked Jesus a  direct and important question. He didn’t ask Jesus to heal someone. He wasn’t looking for a miracle or a personal favor. Instead, this young man asked the question we should all ask Jesus every day. “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Is this a question that you ponder and ask our Lord?

As the story unfolds, Jesus gives two answers. First, He gives the young man the fundamental answer to his question. Eternal life is obtained by keeping away from serious sin, out of love and obedience to the will of God. But after the young man inquires further, Jesus gives him a much deeper answer. This second answer was one based on a deep love for this young man because it presented the key to perfection. “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

Many people go through life fulfilling the most fundamental precepts of holiness. They avoid serious sin so as to remain in a state of grace. And this is good. But Jesus wants so much more: He wants perfection. When we sincerely seek out perfection, Jesus will answer us as He answered the Rich Young Man. Perfection requires the deepest purification from all unhealthy attachments. Most people have many attachments that hinder perfection. Those attachments might not be mortal sins, but they are venial sins, or spiritual imperfections. Therefore, it’s important to know that if you want perfection, and if you humble yourself before our Lord and sincerely ask how to obtain it, He will lovingly invite you to detach from everything but God and His holy will for your life. What that means practically for you must be prayerfully discerned.

Reflect, today, upon whether or not you could join this rich young man in his humble questions posed to Jesus. Do you want to know how to be perfect? If so, are you ready to respond to Jesus’ answer? Are you willing to abandon everything that is a hindrance to the will of God so that you can follow Him and fulfill His perfect will? Ponder this question and commit yourself to the full embrace of Jesus’ answer and you will become richer in what matters than you could ever imagine.

My generous Lord, You call me to perfection. You call me to turn from everything that hinders my perfect love of You and my full embrace of Your will. Please help me to sincerely turn to You every day, seeking only Your full will in all things. As I do, please set me free from all that keeps me from the life of perfection to which I am called. Jesus, I trust in You.

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

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Saint of the Day – Saint Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop

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Featured images above: Cathedral Church of Saint Patrick (Charlotte, North Carolina) – stained glass, Christ and the rich young man, via Wikimedia Commons