“When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.” (Matthew 19:22).
The other day, I was reading the Gospel of Saint Matthew (19:16-22) about the young man who asked Christ what he could do to merit eternal life and after he was told what he should do, he went away sad…
“Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’… Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.” (Matthew 19:16-22).
Though I have heard this story many times, this time when I read it the story again, my attention was drawn to the sadness of that young man.
And that young man’s sadness broke my heart, for I can see that scene in my mind’s eye now…
There he was, a young a pious man who had undertaken a sort of pilgrimage to see his idol, Christ. And there he stood, talking to the Man he most admired in all the world, the Man who he had travelled out of his way – at presumably great inconvenience – to see. He was standing in front of the Man who he believed would give him advice to help him to please God. How excited he must have been! How nervous!
He must have surely been planning how he would get to the front of the crowd to actually have the chance to talk with Christ. Perhaps he started queuing at 3 o’clock in the morning? Perhaps earlier?
It is not unrealistic to imagine such a thing. After all, people cue for concert tickets and sale items hours before the stores open their doors, why would a pious man not queue hours in advance of seeing the Christ?
This young man was Christ’s biggest fan.
And there he was, finally after all that effort, standing right there, at the front of the crowd – effectively on the stage with the performer – and speaking to Him and listening to Him… What a pivotal moment! What a life-changing encounter! What an achievement! Face to face with the Christ!
And yet, when all was said and done – standing right there at the very front of a crowd of multitudes, right there – face to face with the Man who everybody in that crowd was wanting to see and talk to. He obviously knew who Christ was and had been following Him and His teachings and he LOVED God and wanted to please Him and now he had met Him face to face.
And yet, he went away sad…
And that sadness broke my heart when I read about it the other day… because that young man’s sadness, is my own.
Here I stand face to face with my Beloved, and I say to Him – with all the love in my worthless sinful little heart – What would you have me do?
And He tells me. Clearly, calmly, directly – and most importantly – personally.
And when I hear His request, I go away sad, because I too have great wealth…
And that sadness breaks my heart too…
My Lord and my God, take away all my wealth, for I would only have joy – and not sadness – when I see Your Holy Face…
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.