What must I do to inherit Eternal Life?
When I want to reflect on the gospel of today, the question above keeps coming to my mind. I decided to use it as a topic for this morning’s reflections because that is the least questions that we do ask ourselves today.
In today’s Christianity, many Christians are more interested in worldly interests and solving their needs and in the gospel of today, it was the same worldly interest that caused the man that meets Jesus today to leave His presence without achieving what He wants.
Today, we are more interested in praying for money, breakthroughs, success, acquisitions etc. It is hard these days for us to seek eternity.
We want to build the latest houses, ride the latest cars and wear expensive clothes. We always want to be the talking point of the town. Then we want to be honoured and worshipped.
When we pray, we pray for material success and possessions. It seems we have forgotten the soul. Can we also think about our end? Can we also think about where we are going to spend our eternity?
Do we have time to prepare for our end just as we hustle to prepare the body? What must I do to inherit eternal life is a question every Christian should be asking.
What must I do to inherit eternal life? Should also be our focus. In today’s gospel, a young man ran to Jesus and His question was “what must I do to inherit eternal life?
Despite how this story ended, at least we see someone who is thinking about the other life.
Also, Jesus’ response shows that eternal life is the most important, a life beyond every material possession and acquisition we may have in this world. Yet We do not pay attention to it.
Like this man, we prefer the possessions we are seeing with our eyes presently, more than the ones yet to come. But at the end of our lives, we realize how much we have wasted our lives and turn back to seek the life yet to come.
Therefore, as we focus and hustle for this present life, let us not forget the life to come. There will be a time we will seek for it. By then, it is too late. Therefore, what I must do to inherit the kingdom of God is a question for everyone.
The Encounter With Jesus.
In the gospel, as Jesus is setting out on a journey, a man runs up to Him, kneels before him and asks him,
‘Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus says to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments, You must not kill, You must not commit adultery, You must not steal, You must not bring false witness, You must not defraud; Honour your father and mother.’
And He replies to Jesus, ‘Master, I have kept all these from my earliest days.’ Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.
Then Jesus looks to his disciples and says to them ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’
The disciples are astounded by these words, but Jesus insists, ‘My children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’
They become more astonished than ever. ‘In that case, they said to one another ‘who can be saved?’ Jesus looks at them and says again ‘For men, it is impossible, but not for God: because everything is possible for God.’
What We Can Do to Inherit Eternal Life?
In today’s gospel, we need to applaud this man first at least for his desire to seek the Kingdom of God. Though His questions show that we can merit God’s kingdom only by our self-righteousness and merit. We do not depend solely on ourselves.
The Kingdom of God is a gift God promises those who come close to Him. We do not merit it from any particular thing we do. It comes from God who gives it to us willingly.
When this man asks Jesus what He has to do, Jesus responds to Him by pointing towards the commandments. It was like a summary of the second table of the decalogue (Exod 20:12–17).
There is a popular Jewish belief at that time which was based on the Old Testament teaching that any man who keeps the law would live (Deuteronomy 30:15-16).
This is what influenced the man’s questions, then Jesus began from there first. And from His boyhood, this man had kept all the commandments. The man spoke sincerely because to him keeping the law was a matter of external conformity.
Recognizing the young man’s sincerity, Jesus responded in love. Some commentators suggest that the words “loved him” mean that Jesus touched or hugged him.
That may be, but nothing in the text indicates it. Doing this, Jesus still shows the importance of keeping to God’s words. Therefore, the question “what must I do to inherit eternal life begins from hearing the word of God and keeping to it.
The One Thing that lacks.
In the same way, no one would say that He hates God. None of us will evenly accept that He or she is not close to God. But there is one thing that is lacking.
In the gospel, when the man proves to have been keeping the commandments, Jesus says to Him “‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.
The first thing that lacks here is the life of the willingness to sacrifice anything for the sake of the gospel. It is the willingness to live a life of total surrender.
In this encounter, if Jesus asks the man to sell some of His things and give to the poor, I believe He will. But the instructions from Jesus is that He will sell all His possessions. I mean he has to forfeit all and give them to the poor.
Then He will come back and follow Jesus around. This infuriated Him so much. No rich man will ever like to come down and be just a puppet to anyone. It is impossible to take.
Secondly, in this encounter, Jesus gave him two choices. It is either, He chooses Jesus or He chooses His material acquisitions.
Then, the man proves that the material acquisition is more important to him than being close to the Lord. The man in question chose His material wealth rather than choosing Jesus.
The point here is that he was seeking the avenue to eternal life, then He was shown the way to eternal life, because the choice was so hard, he abandoned the road to eternal life.
The same thing happens to us. We always want to be close to God, we want eternal life, we want to be called God’s children etc, but we are not willing to seek the way that leads to eternal life.
We still prefer the material positions more than we seek for the salvation of our souls.
Hence, We can easily attend parties, go to any extent to win the heart of someone that we love, sometimes we have sleepless nights just to be chatting with someone we love. Then we claim we love God but hardly spend any little time with Him.
This man would have been one of the apostles or disciples of Jesus today, had it been he accepted. But He lost that opportunity. We do not even know his name, but we would have known that if he made the right choice.
He was more interested in his position, status, comfort, and financial status rather than eternal life. Yet he will still lose all at the end of our lives.
In the same way, what has prevented many of us today is our desire to enjoy the world first and keep the soul later. Yet we would lose everything at the end to still meet the life to come.
Therefore, the question “what can we do to inherit eternal life, should also be our intense desire.
May God bless you dearest and give us the grace to be close to Him. May we achieve eternity at last. Amen