“Teacher, what must I do . . . ?”
“Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?”
To the young man who asked this question, Jesus answers first by
invoking the necessity to recognize God as the “One there is who
is good,” as the supreme Good and the source of all good. Then
Jesus tells him: “If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”
And he cites for his questioner the precepts that concern love of
neighbor: “You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You
shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father
and mother.” Finally Jesus sums up these commandments posi
tively: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
To this first reply Jesus adds a second: “If you would be
perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will
have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
This reply does
not do away with the first: following Jesus Christ involves keeping
the Commandments. The Law has not been abolished,
man is invited to rediscover it in the person of his Master who is
its perfect fulfillment. In the three synoptic Gospels, Jesus’ call to
the rich young man to follow him, in the obedience of a disciple
and in the observance of the Commandments, is joined to the call
to poverty and chastity.
The evangelical counsels are inseparable
from the Commandments.
Jesus acknowledged the Ten Commandments, but he also
showed the power of the Spirit at work in their letter. He preached
a “righteousness [which] exceeds that of the scribes and Phari
as well as that of the Gentiles.
He unfolded all the demands
of the Commandments. “You have heard that it was said to the
men of old, ‘You shall not kill.’ . . . But I say to you that every one
who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.”
19:6-12, 21, 23-29.