Last week our Holy Father Pope Benedict inaugurated the year of faith. Those of us who attend daily Mass know that on the very anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the first reading was on the subject of faith. Each succeeding reading has continued the same subject. Only God could have arranged such a coincidence! Today’s Gospel is the story of the rich young man who ran up enthusiastically to Jesus, threw himself down at His feet and begged Him to say how one can inherit eternal life. Jesus reminds the young man of the commandments. Then, perceiving that he wanted more, Jesus tells him to sell all his possessions and come follow. “At this his face fell and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”
The rich young man of the Gospel evidently had faith, or he would not have come to Jesus. Yet he did not have enough faith to abandon his financial security for the sake of Christ. Deep faith always bears the fruit of love and urges one to a commitment of love. St. Francis, the son of a wealthy, 13th century cloth merchant, was another rich young man who did not go away sad when Jesus called him. No, rather he went home joyfully and sold everything, even what was not his to sell! When his father angrily demanded his money in a public hearing before the Bishop of Assisi, Francis gave it back to him along with all his clothes in a dramatic and symbolic gesture of self renunciation. St. Clare was also wealthy and of a noble lineage. She abandoned all her worldly possessions to follow Christ along the way of Holy Poverty that Francis pointed out to her. Countless others, both rich and poor and middle class have followed their example throughout the centuries. May many more come after us! Only by the grace of faith can we exchange what is visible for what is invisible. Our Lord says that for man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Love, born of faith, conquers all.