The Rich Young Man and the Evangelical Counsels


I have a question about the story of the rich young man and the implications of saying that voluntary poverty is an evangelical counsel.

I realize that Jesus tells the young man "if you would be perfect," THEN he should give away his possessions. So, it's not necessary for salvation. That's the Catholic interpretation. However, in addition to saying that he should give up his money if he wants to be perfect, Jesus tells him he should "Come, follow me" IF he wants to be perfect. Does that not imply that following Jesus is not necessary for salvation? See Mat. 19:16-29.


Giving up everything you have, selling all of your posessions, giving it all to the poor and following Jesus unreservedly is not required for salvation.

We are all called to follow Jesus, to imitate our master, to pick up our cross and follow Jesus who went before us to the cross, to the grave and to the ressurection of life. But the type of radical following where we sell everything we have and physically walk away from ordinary life within society is not required of all.

Jesus said that in order to be perfect the man had to sell everything he had and follow him. That particular man had to do both, sell everything he had to give to the poor and physically follow Jesus into the desert. There are many ways to follow Jesus. One does not have to give up their entire life and walk off into the desert to do so. One such way is through detachment from self.

To say to a husband or wife, "Not my will, but thy will be done" is to detach from onself and to make oneself a gift to another. To say, 'Not my will, but thy will be done" to others whom we love is in many ways as counter cultural and as radical as selling everything one has and giving it to the poor. To say, "Not my will, but thy will be done" is one of the most difficult things any person will ever attempt and is to imitate our Savior who said the same thing to God the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Opus Dei is an organization that teaches its members how to reach perfection through ordinary life, expecially the daily work God places before each of us. Jesus was a sacrifice, a priest, a prophet, judge, healer, teacher, worker, slave, leader and obedient son. There are many ways to follow Jesus.



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