“It will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:23)
When Jesus saw how the young man walked away in sorrow, unwilling to sell his possessions and give to the poor, Jesus shook his head and declared: “How hard it is for the rich to enter into the kingdom of God. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
There is a particular gate into the city of Jerusalem called “the eye of a needle.” This gate is so small that a camel would have a very hard time passing through it. It is not impossible for the camel to go through this gate but that camel would have to subject itself to several excruciating pains. Of course, whatever load it was carrying must be dropped first.
The point Jesus is making here is that it is very easy for wealth and even the desire for riches to take the place of God thereby preventing us from attaining heaven. Indeed, we cannot deny the fact in today’s world, money is an idol both to the rich and the poor. If we examine our consciences, we would admit that we love money just as much as we love God. The disciples of Jesus understood this dilemma and were quick to ask Jesus: “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus responded by saying: “With men this is impossible but with God, all things are possible.” This saying of Jesus immediately takes us to our first reading today where we see an Angel of God addressing Gideon as a “mighty man of valour.” Gideon who had always looked down on himself did not believe he was the one the Angel was talking to. “Behold my clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least in my family.”
Just as Jesus said that with God, all things are possible, the Angel said to Gideon: “But I will be with you, and you shall smite the Midianites as one man.” That is to say, if we are to depend on ourselves, we are nothing but if we have God on our side, nothing will be too hard for us.
Peter said to Jesus: “Behold we have left everything to follow you, what then shall we gain?” To this question, Jesus provided two answers, first, “in the new world; that is, in heaven, you will sit among the twelve stones to judge the people” and secondly, even in this world, “anyone who has left houses, lands, family members, etc. for my sake will receive a hundred fold (of whatever he/she has left) and still inherit eternal life.” This is a secret that many Christians do not know.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, may my quest for riches not block my love and devotion to you. Amen.
Bible Study: Judges 6:11-24, Psalm 85 and Matthew 19:23-30).