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A Program of Spiritual Formation for Candidates to the Priesthood

The Lay Monastic Community of Caryana






The Young Rich Man and Christian Life

The Gospels tell us of this story: A young rich man went to Christ and asked: "Good teacher, what must I do to have eternal life?"

Christ set down three requirements: the first was an Old Testament requirement, the second and third were New Testament requirements. The first was: "Have you observed the Ten Commandments?" And the young man answered: "Yes, Lord, from my youth." Now, that's something! Few of us can brag of having obeyed the Ten Commandments from our youth. The young man evidently had complied with this first requirement.   

And so the young man proceeded and asked: "What else do I lack?" Christ gave the two New Testament requirements: first, "Go home, sell all your things and give to the poor;" and, secondly, "Come, follow Me." The first is a sort of prerequisite for the second. The second is, strictly speaking, Christian Living. Since he could not do the first, consequently, he could not "follow Christ."

What went wrong with the young rich man? To "Go home, sell all. . ." is not a New Testament command. Mary, Martha and Cornelius were not required to do it. That command was just a test by which the state of the young man's soul might be revealed. Just as "Go sacrifice your son, Isaac" was not an Old Testament requirement for salvation. It was only a test by which the state of the soul of Abraham was revealed.

The command given to the young man revealed a sick soul; the command given to Abraham revealed a righteous soul. A sick soul cannot walk, much less, follow Christ. He must first heal himself. For the young rich man, the medicine was by denying himself of his possessions, thus, Christ's command to "Go home, sell all. . ."

Scriptures has many commands "to follow Me." When addressed to healthy souls like Matthew, Nathanael and Peter, NO prior requirement was imposed. But when addressed to sick souls, an accompanying prior medication is required. To another young man who wanted to follow Christ, not to bury his father was required before he could follow Christ. To another, not to say good-bye to his relatives was required.

The commands of Christ are meant to cure specific spiritual illnesses. We must know what our spiritual illnesses are and their corresponding medicinal commands of Christ.

There are commands of Christ which, like vitamins, must be obeyed by all. And there are commands of Christ, like Diatabs, which should be taken only by those with diarrhea, not by all. Thus, the young rich man has to "Go home and sell all. . ." But Cornelius was not asked to do the same.








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