Detachment from material goods in order to follow Christ

After the encounter with the rich young man we were considering yesterday, Jesus and his disciples set out again on the road to Jerusalem. The sad farewell of this adolescent who was very attached to his possessions, and the strong words of Jesus towards those who, out of a disordered love for the goods of the earth, are not able - or do not want - to follow him, had remained engraved in everyone's mind. Now, already on the road, probably to break the silence provoked by the previous scene, Peter says to Jesus: You see, we have left everything and followed you. St. Matthew clearly captures the meaning of Peter's words: What reward shall we have? What shall we receive?

St. Augustine, commenting on this passage of the Gospel of today's Mass, challenges us with these words: "I ask you, Christian soul, what are we going to receive? If it were said to you as it was to that rich man: Go, sell all your possessions and you too will have treasure in heaven, and come and follow Christ, would you go away sad as he did?"

We, like the Apostles, have left what the Lord has been asking of us, each one according to his vocation, and we have the firm determination to break every bondage that prevents us from running to Christ and following him. Today we can renew our resolve to place the Lord at the center of our existence by effectively detaching ourselves, through deeds, from what we have and use, so that, like St. Paul, we can say: I count all things but garbage, if only I may gain Christ. Indeed, "he who knows the riches of Christ our Lord despises all things for their sake; for this man's possessions, riches and honors are garbage. For there is nothing that can be compared to that supreme treasure, not even that can be placed in his presence". Nothing is worth anything in comparison with Christ.

We have left everything... "What have you left, Peter? A small boat and a net. He, however, could answer me: I have left the whole world, for I have kept nothing for myself (...). They forsook all (...) and followed him who made the world, and believed in his promises", as we want to do. We can say that we have forsaken everything when nothing stands in the way of our love for Christ. The Lord demands - we have considered it repeatedly, because it is an essential point for following him - the virtue of poverty from all his disciples, of whatever time and in whatever situation the circumstances of life have placed them; he also demands real and effective austerity in the possession and use of material goods, and this includes "much generosity, innumerable sacrifices and unceasing effort," Paul VI goes so far as to say; for this it is necessary to learn to live this virtue in a practical way in everyday life: in saving useless expenses by avoiding personal whims, in the use of time, in living the virtue of generosity in the things of God; likewise, in the support of good works, in the care of clothes, of furniture, of household utensils. ..

Even those who have received in the midst of the world and in the exercise of their profession a more specific call to the apostolate - like the Twelve - can be asked by the Lord for a total detachment of goods, riches, time, family, etc., because of a more complete availability in the service of the Church and of souls.