Today’s gospel is a familiar one: “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” Jesus answers him, citing familiar words from the Commandments. “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus responds: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor,…” And the young rich man goes away sad as he had many possessions.
If you wish to be “perfect” – something that echos Matthew 5:48: “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” As I have written about other times in this blog, in my opinion, the best translation for “teleios” for modern-day English would be “complete.”
The journey of the believer is the meaning of teleios. The aim, the goal, the prize is always ahead. There is a future dimension. At the conclusion there is a wholeness, a completeness, fully coming into being what was always intended. The perfection appropriate to the nature of the believer, the perfection of humanity. What God intended for us.
“His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power. Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature…” (2 Peter 1:3-4)
Come to share in the divine nature. Amazing, mysterious, teleios.
The rich young man has just discovered what keeps him from the journey with Jesus – his possessions. But he is young. Part of the experience of life is to encounter the moments in life when lack of possessions and money is a barrier for moving forward in life. At that time of life, possessions/money are primary in importance for many. Later in life, when they assess what is important they look around and see family, children, friends, the call to do good in the world – and possessions/money no longer have a place in the list of things important. They possess the wisdom of experience about riches and what is truly valuable.
Blessed are the young who possess that wisdom in their youth. Blessed are those who make the journey and eventually reach that wisdom.