Matthew 19:16-22 He Went Away Sad
“I will preach the Gospel whether convenient or inconvenient.” (2Tm 4:2) This is great news, some Good News! Finally, someone who will stand up and tell us what we should say and do. No more re-inventing the wheel. No more learning from our own mistakes. It is the coming of age, an authentic “Enlightenment”, a willingness to embrace that the Lord is the Master of life and death, mission and recognition, faith and morals, truth and beauty. “Have you become unmindful of that Rock that begot you? Have you forgotten the God who gave you birth…What a fickle race they are, sons with no loyalty in them!” (Dt 32:18-19)
Not too long ago I was speaking to a couple who disagreed with me about pre-marital sex. They asked a simple question, why is it wrong? I gave them a simple answer, “Because it doesn’t work.” The Commandments are God’s answers to our problems. Those who wish to follow another commandment, another god, will follow a false god.
“Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life? He answered him, Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good.” This is where all discussions must begin. Do you believe that God is good? That he is my good, and not that he simply gives me the goods?
The Lord instructs the rich young man to “keep the Commandments!” The young man asks Jesus, “Which ones?” The Lord’s reply may be summarized in the following way: All of them! It’s all or nothing. “I have done all these things.” We know the Lord must have loved him because he began to demand more from him: “Go, sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The Apostles, Christ’s followers, are called to be in the world, but not possessed by the world. Leave all behind and come follow me. But isn’t there a shortage of priests and nuns? Don’t we need to make it easier? Shouldn’t priests get married (and divorced)? Aren’t they just like us?
In the days following Vatican II, many theologians, clerics and lay members believed that the 1960’s liberal agenda was the future. They called themselves “The Future Church.” Today, they would be best described as “The Fossil Church.” Our mainline protestant brothers embraced the “all-embracing” doctrines of (a) demand nothing from your members except the god of “tolerance”; (b) defang all dogmas and doctrines; (c) embrace 1960’s sexual morality. We have done all these things, what else must we do?” The response from the recent past is clear: die. Catholics account for less than 10 percent of England’s population; however they significantly outnumber Anglicans when it comes to Sunday observance in a country where 60 percent identify themselves as Anglicans! Mainline protestant churches throughout Europe are dying.
The wisdom of the Church Fathers has always been simple: follow the Lord’s example. Never water down the faith; never loosen her commitments. “Whatever you loose on earth, will be loosed in Heaven.” But whatever you bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven!” (Mt 16:19) What makes men commit to the Lord? A demanding God! “The blood of the martyrs is the seed for the Church.” (Tertullian) When the Church is in need of more holy men and women, they tighten the lifestyle of their men and women, they demand more from them - they make it harder and this draws more men to the Lord’s inner circle.
Today, let us pray, petition and sacrifice to the Lord for an increase in holy men and women, the seed of the Church, the hope of the world! Let us go out and preach the great news!