It would seem that the basic mistake of the young man in the Gospel was that he was greedy. He was very preoccupied with material possessions. But, actually, all the commentaries on this Gospel text agree that the basic flaw of the young man was not that he was greedy but that he was not humble.
He was not humble enough to recognize that whatever gift, whether material or spiritual, comes from God. He was not humble enough to recognize that it was not he who made himself rich, but God’s goodness to him. He was not humble enough to recognize that it was not his own effort but the goodness and effort of God that brought him to his status of wealth. He was not humble enough, and so he went away.
This was not greed. This was pride. Pride, because he wanted to tell himself, “This is mine, why should I sell this? I worked for this, I did not steal, why should I sell this?” He took pride in his accomplishments, and he forgot that it was God who helped him in his achievements.
The First Commandment exhorts us to love God, and therefore not to worship any false god. The young man in the Gospel evidently went against this commandment because although he was not worshipping a molten idol, he was actually worshipping an idol called “money.”
This brings me to another point. Our non-Catholic brethren are so angry with images of the Blessed Mother, the images of the saints that we have. They say these are a violation of the First Commandment because they are molten images. My dear brothers and sisters, if we agree on their premise and destroy all the images, will this mean that we do not violate the first commandment?
We will still violate this commandment because without those images people still bow down in worship before a god called money. People still worship idols called sex and pleasure.
Maybe we can destroy all images but that will not make us obedient to the commandment because we will still be prone to worshipping false idols: the god of so-called national security, the god of so-called economic prosperity, the god of so-called political stability. We continue to bow down before such gods.
We should be reminded, and we should tell our countrymen and the whole Philippines, that we will not bow down before America, we will not kneel down before economic prosperity, we will only kneel down before God. We will only kneel down before God, not before any creature, not before money, not before prestige, not even before our own prosperity.
We will only bow down before God because that is how it should be. If we are truly a Catholic nation, we must only bow down before God.
Let us pray for each other, that we may realize that our idols- money, prosperity, people, political stability – are nothing and are not worthy of worship. Let us crush all these idols which only lead us to pride. Let us only kneel before God and God alone.
Only Jesus, Always Jesus