28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)



October 14, 2018

“You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have a treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

Heinrich Böll, German Nobel Prize for Literature in 1972, once wrote a story about a fisherman who was lying on a beautiful Mediterranean beach, after catching a lot of fish. His fishing pole was propped up in the white sand and his solitary line cast out into the gleaming blue waves. He was enjoying the heat of the afternoon sun and the scene of catching a fish. At that moment, a tourist businessman came walking down the beach, trying to relax after a stressing day. He noticed the fisherman sitting on the beach and with curiosity decided to find out why this fisherman was taking a nap instead of working harder to make a living for himself and his family. "You are not going to catch many fish that way," said the tourist to the fisherman, "you should be working rather than lying on the beach!"

The fisherman patiently looked up at the tourist, smiled and replied, "And what will my recompense be?"

"Well, you can get bigger nets and catch more fish!" was the tourist's answer.

"And then what will my recompense be?" asked the fisherman, still smiling.

The tourist replied, "You will make a lot of money and you will be able to buy a boat, and catch many more fish!"

"And then what will my recompense be?" asked the fisherman again.

The tourist began to get a little annoyed with the same questions of the fisherman. He said, "You can buy a bigger boat, and hire some people to work for you!"

The fisherman repeated the same question, "And then what will my recompense be?"

The tourist was getting angry. "Don't you understand? You can build up a fleet of fishing boats, sail all over the world, and let all your hire men catch fish for you!"

Again the fisherman asked, "And then what will my recompense be?"

The tourist furious shouted at the fisherman, "Don't you understand that you can become so rich that you will never have to work for your living again! You can spend all the rest of your life sitting on this beach, looking at the sunset. You won't have to care for anything!"

The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, "And what do you think I'm doing right now?"

In the Gospel today a rich young man, who wanted to inherit eternal life, is called upon to leave his things to follow the Lord. He is a good man. No doubt he had tried to serve God. He is the only person Jesus ever invited to give all his possessions away. Unfortunately that man rejected the opportunity of his life to be a disciple. He could not leave his possessions to follow the Lord. He had many possessions.

Jesus invited the rich young man to follow him; but in order to do this, the rich man had to give up his wealth and share it with the poor. It was “too much” for him, because “he had too many possessions.” The rich man made a poor decision. The main problem was not probably his riches, but his attachment to them. His belongings were a big gap between him and his willingness to follow Jesus.

When Jesus affirms that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to be saved, he is not rejecting anybody, he is using a strong metaphor to highlight the difficulty of serving God while being attached to possessions.

Many people in the world think that happiness depends on material possessions, such as a huge rent and backing account, a big and expensive house, a brand new car, a dream farm, the latest in electronic equipment, and many more. These are for them priorities over many cultural and spiritual values. Possessions tend to blind a person to the lasting values in life, like the ethnographer of the above story.

Saint Francis and Saint Clare, both from Assisi once heard Jesus´ invitation, “Come, follow me;” they gave up their material goods and followed Jesus in a literal way. Some people in the Church have received the same invitation; many of you cannot follow this invitation literally, but material property cannot be an obstacle attaching you in such way that could prevent you from being disciples of the Lord, and good members of the Church.

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