On the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, Fr. Matthew Howell uses the Gospel passage (Matthew 19:16-26) to ask the question: What do you treasure? He explains that if there is something more important in your life than God, then you are at risk of committing idolatry. He discusses different things that we turn into idols in this life, such as money, pleasure, entertainment, power, prestige, or even family. He also discusses different ideas of heaven and compares it to Christ’s ideas of what eternal life will be in order to point out the difference between God-centered joy and self-centered happiness (or fun). He points out that salvation is about going from being egocentric (self-centered) to being Christo-centric (Christ-centered).
Along the way, he quotes St. John of Kronstadt, King David, and St. Peter quoting from Exodus and Leviticus; describes an old cartoon from the New Yorker that explains how we like to feel good without giving up the things that make us feel bad; and drops a reference to Willy Wonka’s golden tickets.
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Brethren, I would remind you in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast — unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
At that time, a young man came up to Jesus, kneeling and saying, “Good Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you call me good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which?” And Jesus said, “You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have observed; what do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, 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.” When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.