28th Sunday in Ordinary Time          

            Isidor Rabi was a Nobel prize winner in physics. Once a friend asked him how he became a scientist. Rabi replied that every day after school his mother would talk to him about his school day. She was not so much interested in what he had heard and learned that day, but she always inquired, “Did you ask a good question today?” Rabi said, “Asking good questions made me become a scientist.”

            Today’s gospel reading revolves around the question of a man who ran up and knelt before Jesus. His “running up” gives the impression of being someone who is full of energy, enthusiasm, and idealism – typical of a young man. And also typical of a young man, he is looking for a mentor. He is looking for a spiritual director – someone who will initiate him into the ways of the spirit. He asks Jesus a very important question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” That is a good question!

            This young man does not only have energy and enthusiasm; he has got the right spiritual instinct. (Bishop Robert Barron) He is not asking a successful and wealthy entrepreneur how to get rich in business. He is not asking a powerful and influential politician how to get in power and stay there. He is not asking an elderly married man how to succeed in marriage. As important as those things are, those are not his pressing concerns. Instead, he is asking the most serious possible question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

            Pardon me for saying this… Correct me if I am wrong… Most young people today do not even consider this question. Due to the influence of secularism, young people (even adults) are indifferent to this most important question. Frankly speaking, I think the questions that preoccupy them are: “How do I get to and graduate from a good school –perhaps, Ateneo or Lasalle or UP?” “How do I establish the right connection to the right people that will be beneficial to me in my career?” “How do I become a successful, accomplished, and highly-regarded professional?” “How do I start a business and make my first million?”

            Sad to say, most of our questions do not well up from the deepest part of the soul, where the question of the rich young man is coming from: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Is this not supposed to be the question that, above all, we should also be seriously asking ourselves? Are we really concerned about eternal life? About what we must do to receive it? If we are to become true disciples of Jesus, we must ask the good questions.

            It is said that life is all about asking the right questions and giving the right answers. Allow me paraphrase the words of Isidor Rabi: Asking good questions and giving good answers helps us become good Christians.

            The good question “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” can be paraphrased in these terms: What must I do to share in the life of God? To have my life filled with grace? To open myself to receive blessings? To receive the Sacraments more often, particularly the Eucharist and Reconciliation? What must I do to share in the life and mission of Christ? To proclaim the Good News and be good news to others? To minister to others and to serve the poor? To follow him on the way of the cross?

            Just like the rich young man in the gospel story, let us run up to Jesus, kneel down before him, and address these questions to him in prayer. May we hear the Lord in prayer telling us what to do: “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”    With God’s help, may we be able to let go of the things that Jesus is telling us to “sell and give away.” May we follow Jesus more closely and more faithfully… and share in the fullness of life… inherit eternal life

            Let us end with a prayer: Lord Jesus, You caution me about the barriers   that hinder me from experiencing God’s presence and from receiving God’s blessings or eternal life. You invite me to break with society’s distorted values of saving for oneself and accumulating material things. Lord, help me to let go for the sake of the Kingdom, to give and share generously to the poor, and to follow You more faithfully. Amen.       

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