Daily Reflection – Aug 16, 2016
Tuesday 16 August 2016
First Reading: Ezekiel 28:1-10
It is I who deal death and give life
Deuteronomy 32:26-28, 30, 35-36
Gospel Reading: Matthew 19:23-30
Today’s Saint: St Stephen of Hungary (Optional Memorial)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich
to enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Again I say to you,
it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said,
“Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said,
“For men this is impossible,
but for God all things are possible.”
Then Peter said to him in reply,
“We have given up everything and followed you.
What will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you
that you who have followed me, in the new age,
when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory,
will yourselves sit on twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or children or lands
for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more,
and will inherit eternal life.
But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
For God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)
Why did Jesus exhort the rich young man to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor? Was Jesus encouraging him to earn heaven by being more charitable? Or was he asking the man to root out self-reliance? Following laws doesn’t get you into the kingdom of God; radical trust and faith in Jesus do.
“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). This was a hard saying for the disciples to grasp. Wealth was considered by many to be a sign of God’s favor, and that means that the rich young man must have been blessed by God. So if this fellow, who clearly enjoyed God’s blessing, could not enter the kingdom, who could?
We sometimes read into the Biblical text ideas which Jesus or the Biblical writer did not intend. Jesus says it is only with difficulty that a rich man will enter into the Kingdom of God. He did not say that it is totally impossible.
Let us face reality: it is only with a certain amount of difficulty that any of us can enter into the Kingdom of God, as Jesus himself elsewhere warned us: “It is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:14).
Jesus speaks in this way to challenge us and to form us in the truth. If we take this saying in isolation, we may feel that Jesus is threatening us, but we must interpret Scripture through the fullness of Scripture and revelation: “For God all things are possible.” We may add that God’s possibilities are the possibilities of eternal, merciful, forgiving, and salvific love.
We may apply Jesus’ saying about the rich man to ourselves by considering “riches” as any kind of hindrance.
So let’s get rid of whatever extra sinful baggage is hindering our spiritual growth. We are all very limited creatures, limited in our self-awareness and limited in our ability or willingness to put aside definitively those things which come between us and God. Let’s commit our lives to Jesus anew every morning, confessing our need for him and letting go of any sense of self-sufficiency that still clings to us. Let’s strive for the perfection that comes only by faith in Jesus so that we, too, can know his power to save and sanctify.
Jesus, you are my only hope. I commit myself to you as Lord and Savior. Help me to become the person you want me to be.
“Lord, guide us unerringly to the narrow gate.”