But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Read Chapter 19
Augustine of Hippo
De Cons. Ev., ii, 63: This may seem a discrepancy, that Matthew here gives it, "Why askest thou me concerning good?” whereas Mark and Luke’s have, “Whycallest thou me good?” For this, “Why askest thou me concerning good?” may seem rather to be referred to his question, “What good thing shall I do?” for in that he both mentioned “good,” and asked a question. But this, “Good Master, "is not yet a question. Either sentence may be understood thus very appropriately to the passage.
Serm., 84, 1: And He said not, “If thou desirest life eternal; but, “If thouwilt enter into life,” calling that simply “life,” which shall be everlasting. Here we should consider how eternal life should be loved, when this miserable and finite life is so loved.
de Op. Monach., 25: Nor need it be made a scruple in what monasteries, or to the indigent brethren of what place, any one gives those things that he has, for there is but one commonwealth of all Christians. Therefore wheresoever any Christian has laid out...
When the young man heard, &c. Wisely says S. Augustine (Epist43. ad Paulin.), "I know not how it is that when superfluous earthly things are loved, the more acquired the more they bind. Wherefore did that young man depart in sorrow, except because he had great riches? For it is one thing to be unwilling to incorporate with yourself what you have not; it is another thing to tear away what has been incorporated. The former may be repudiated as something not belonging to you: divesting yourself of the latter is like cutting off your limbs." In the Gospel according to the Hebrews which Origen cites, there is here a considerable addition. It is as follows. "Another of the rich men said unto Him, Master, what good thing shall I do that I may live? He saith unto him, Prayer of Manasseh , keep the Law and the Prophets. He answered Him, I have done this. He said unto him, Go and sell all that thou possessest, and divide amongst the poor, and come, follow Me. But the rich man began to scratch hi...
Sorrowful. I know not how it happens, that when superfluous and earthly things are loved, we are more attached to what we possess in effect than in desire. For, why did this young man depart sad, but because he had great riches? It is one thing not to wish for, and another to part with them, when once we have them. They become incorporated, and, as it were, a part of ourselves, like food; and, when taken, are changed into our own members. No one easily suffers a member of his body to be cut off. (St. Augustine, ep. xxxi. ad Paul.)
But the young man, when he heard this, “went away sorrowful.” For he put great trust in wealth. And in him we observe the rational working out of a metaphor. This was a young man. He himself said that since his youth he had obeyed the commandments that are contained in the law. Yet an arrested adolescence remains within his youth, whatever age he may be.
But because he had styled Him Good Master, and had not confessed Him as God, oras the Son of God, He tells him, that in comparison of God there is no saint tobe called good, of whom it is said, “Confess unto the Lord, for he is good;.
For Our Saviour does not reject this witness to His goodness, but corrected theerror of calling Him Good Master apart from God.
Hieron. cont. Vigilant., 15: That Vigilantius asserts that they who retain theuse of their property, and from time to time divide their incomes among the poor, do better than they who sell their possessions and lavish them in one actof charity, to him, not I, but God shall make answer, If thou wilt be perfect, "Go and sell.” That which you so extol, is but the second or third grade; which we indeed admit, only remembering that what is first is to be set before what is third or second.
For many who leave their riches do not therefore follow the Lord; and it is notsufficient for perfection that they despise money, unless they also ...
Hom., lxiii: But I for my part, though I deny not that he was a lover of money, because Christ convicts him as such, cannot consider him to have been ahypocrite, because it is unsafe to decide in uncertain cases, and especially in making charges against any. Moreover Mark removes all suspicion of this kind, for he says that he came to Him, and knelt before Him; and that Jesus when He looked on him, loved him. And if he had come to tempt Him, the Evangelist would have signified as much, as he has done in other places. Or if he had said nothing thereof, Christ would not have suffered him to be hid, but would either have convicted him openly, or have covertly suggested it.But He does not this; for it follows, “Hesaith unto him, Why askest thou me concerning good?”.
Wherein then was the profit that He answered thus? He leads him by degrees, and teaches him to lay aside false flattery, and rising above the things which are upon earth to cleave to God, to seek things to come, and to know Him...
After this the evangelist, as it were to show that he has not felt anything it was unlikely he should feel, says, For he had great possessions. For they that have little are not equally held in subjection, as they that are overflowed with great affluence, for then the love of it becomes more tyrannical. Which thing I cease not always saying, that the increase of acquisitions kindles the flame more, and renders the getters poorer, inasmuch as it puts them in greater desire, and makes them have more feeling of their want.
See, for example, even here what strength did this passion exhibit. Him that had come to Him with joy and forwardness, when Christ commanded him to cast away his riches, it so overwhelmed and weighed down, as not to suffer him so much as to answer touching these things, but silenced and become dejected and sullen to go away.
E Bed. in Luc., Matt 18:3: This man had, it may be, heard of the Lord that only they who were like to little children were worthy to enter into the heavenly kingdom; but desiring to know more certainly, he asks to have it declared to him not in parables, but expressly, by what merits he might attain eternallife.Therefore it is said; “And behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
And Jesus, condescending as to a weak one, most graciously set out to him the precepts of the Law; Jesus said, “Thou shalt do no murder;” and of all these precepts follows the exposition, “And thou shalt love thy neighbour asthyself.” For the Apostle says, “Whoso loveth his neighbour has fulfilled the Law?” But it should be enquired, why the Lord has enumerated only the precepts of the Second Table? Perhaps because this young manwas zealous in the love of God, or because love of our neighbour is the step by which we ascend to the love of God.
But to those who would be perfect in grace, He shows how they may come to perfection, “Jesus saith unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go, and sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor.” Mark the words; He said not, Go, and consume all thou hast; but Go, and sell; and not some, as did Ananias andSapphira, but “All.” And well He added, “that thou hast,” for what we have areour lawful possessions. Those therefore that he justly possessed were to ...