In this homily about Luke 18:18-27, Fr. Matthew Howell talks about how we need to meet Christ “empty handed” when we die. He starts by reading the opening two pages of a homily on this gospel reading from St. Nikolai Velimirovic (Homilies, Vol. 2, pp. 308-309). St. Nikolai sets up an image of a sinking ship that has someone who gets into a lifeboat and then begins loading as many things as possible from the sinking ship into the boat, ultimately causing his own demise. St. Nikolai says that only those who “swim empty handed” are able to reach out to the captain, Jesus Christ, and be rescued. Fr. Matthew goes on to talk about how our love of riches keeps us from loving God.
Brethren, God who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God: not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
At that time, a ruler came to Jesus and asked him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said, “All these I have observed from my youth.” And when Jesus heard it, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard this he became sad, for he was very rich. Jesus looking at him said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.