In today’s gospel passage we see Jesus once again taking a swipe at rich people. The rich young man comes and asks Jesus what he has to do to get into Heaven. First Jesus rebukes him for calling him good. “No one is good but One, that is, God.” is Jesus reply to this question. Next he asks what he needs to do. Jesus lists off the commandments that he must obey. Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and mother. Okay seems simple so far. Most of us would be able to do all of these things without any question. Then the whammy comes. Go sell all you have, give to the poor, come and follow me. Oh man not that! I can only imagine what this man must have thought. Ask me anything else and I will do it, but not that. I have too much stuff.
Okay, last week we were faced with the same thing. Does Jesus not like rich people? Maybe, but more important that that he is speaking in terms of sacrifice. Sacrifice is something that we need to do as Christians. How many of us sacrifice to be Christians? This week Pope Benedict will travel to Turkey to make an official visit to the Turkish government but also to Patriarch Bartholomew. Christians in Turkey are a minority and suffer each day for their faith. The patriarch himself is a captive in his own residence and can only move about with official permission. I would say that he suffers for his faith. Now I am not saying that we all need to move to Turkey and suffer along with our brothers and sisters there, no but we should sacrifice a little for our faith.
This time of advent is a time of preparation and time of sacrifice. In the Orthodox Church we fast during this time of the year as we do during great lent. Give something up these days as an offering to God. It does not matter what it is just do it.
In his writings about this verse, St. John Chrysostom teaches the following, Jesus loved the man, He named these conditions for his particular need. That is the key phrase here, his particular need. Jesus is not saying that we all need to sell all we have and give to the poor, but for this man that is what he needed to do. Pray that God will reveal what you must do to have eternal life. It will be different for all of us.