Twenty-Eighth Sunday after Pentecost 2018

Read: Colossians 1:12-18; Luke 18:18-27

The epistle this Sunday tells us who Jesus truly is. He is the very center of our being. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, …. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead.” St. John tells us the same thing, “All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race” (John 1:3-4). We have the saying, “Put Christ back into Christmas,” but we must take this a step further, “We must put Christ into everything that we are, and in all creation.” Our whole lives must be oriented to Christ, “God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). This worship is not complete until we imitate the Lord in his love for all who have come to be in his loving-kindness.

In today’s gospel Jesus tells us his will when he tells the young man, “You know the commandments …. There is still one thing left for you: sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The human problem, perhaps today more than ever, is that we do not have the moral capacity to discern the will of God. The young man was certainly unable to do so, and so our Lord said, “For it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

We consistently confuse our own will for God’s will, and we sing with Frank Sinatra, “I did it my way.” This is because we do not have the moral power to deny ourselves, and look through the eyes of God. The feasts of the birth and of the baptism of Christ are “feasts of light,” as the Fathers taught. St. John tells us that at the birth of Christ, “ the true light, which enlightens everyone, … coming into the world” (John 1:9). The magi saw this light in the star, and the shepherds saw this light in the angels, and both went out of themselves, and came to Bethlehem. Only by leaving their places of comfort, their country or their fields, their work, were they able to see the true light. This is what we must do this Christmas, we must not see our salvation in our own self-interest and comforts, in our own delusions about reality, but only in the good news and the will of God spoken to us through his word, our Lord Jesus Christ.