Gospel Reading, Sunday 19th August

The Rich Young Ruler (Matthew 19:16-26)


A rich young ruler approaches Christ in earnest seeking to know how to obtain eternal life. He calls Christ ‘good teacher’. That is, he recognises Christ’s authority as a teacher, as one who can discern between good and evil, between a godly life and a sinful life; but he approaches Christ merely as a teacher, and fails to recognise His divinity. Because of this, St John Chrysostom says that Christ chooses to communicate with him as a man and teacher. He responds by saying “no one is good but One, that is, God”.

Christ is not saying that He is not good, but can perceive that the young ruler can be tested. He goes on to instruct him to simply follow the commandments, but the man responds by saying that he has kept them all from his youth. This brings about the end of Christ’s superficial discourse. At this point He tells him that perfection can be obtained if he sells what he has, gives it to the poor and follows Christ. This passage perhaps reveals the most poignant lesson for all Christians. That is, to obtain perfection we must dedicate our entire lives to Christ. This means to pray earnestly to Christ, listen for His calling, to see Him in our neighbour, to know His will, and ultimately to follow Him to the cross.

This challenge was too much for the young ruler “for he had great possessions”. He was glad and willing to take his faith to a certain point, but when challenged by Christ to take the further step, he could not do so because he was tied to earthly things. Christ speaks to the old and young in this passage, telling us that He wants our hearts. His calling is there to be taken, and there is no better time than now to accept that invitation.


Source: Lychnos August/September 2018