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The Path to Eternal Life

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

Today's Gospel story from the Gospel of St. Matthew is the familiar tale that has been labeled "The Rich Young Man." He comes to Jesus seeking eternal life. While certain Jews had come to believe in eternal life by this time in history, it was not a widely held element of faith. For most Jews, eternal life was nothing more than being held in the memories of the loved ones they left behind. So this man's faith is, we may say, more fully developed than that of the ordinary Israelite.

When Jesus responds that the key to eternal life is "keeping the commandments," the young man makes a bold assertion. He already does that; he's looking for more.

I am not young, and I am certainly not rich. I daresay that I can pretty much assume that the vast majority of my readers would not fit both categories. However, there is a third way in which this young man and I differ. Although I strive daily to keep the commandments, I have to admit in all honesty that I would be hard pressed to tell Jesus that I am always a faithful adherent to the Gospel way of life. In other words, I am a sinner.

Jesus does not say that following the commandments and giving our wealth to the poor must follow one after the other. These are not tests. They are simply ways to live out THE commandment; namely to love God and to love our neighbor. For me and for most of you, that is going to be a lifelong struggle. It will be a long time before I can claim that I keep all the commandments without fail!

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