Daily Office Readings for Monday of Proper 7: Year 2
“Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.” (Matthew 19: 21 – 22)
I like to bracket the words [the money] in verse 21 of chapter 19. My Greek translation does not have those words. It reads, “ ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Εἰ θέλεις τέλειος εἶναι, ὕπαγε πώλησόν σου τὰ ὑπάρχοντα καὶ [x]δὸς πτωχοῖς, καὶ ἕξεις θησαυρὸν ἐν [y]οὐρανοῖς, καὶ δεῦρο ἀκολούθει μοι.” Roughly translated it says, “ to him Jesus said, if perfect you wish to be, go sell your stuff and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come and follow me.”
Translation is a tricky business. There is a difference between “give to the poor,” and “give the money to the poor.” Our Lord Jesus and his unemployed followers could certainly use some of the money. We are told that certain women who had money helped with the necessities of the group. (Luke 8:1 – 3) We could miss the practical necessity here by too loose a translation.
In this story we see not a man with possessions; but rather, a man who was possessed by his wealth. We might have had his name had he let go of his possessions. He could have been one of the apostles! He was invited among them by Jesus as he said, “then come, follow me.”
Based on a real and practical understanding of this Bible reading it becomes clear that money is not bad but it can distract and rule us if we are not careful. We should give to the poor but we must care for ourselves as well. If we don’t first care for ourselves, we may not be able to help anyone else. It takes a strong swimmer to save a drowning man.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John