Tuesday of the 20th Week of the Year

Matt 19:23-30

The Rich and the Kingdom of Heaven

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:

Money is something we treasure, for it allows us to buy our way to what our hearts desires. It is grease to many things – to a choice seat at a performance, to someone’s indispensable signature, to electoral victory and so on. It seems everything and everyone has its price and lucky is the man/woman who manages to buy.

Paradoxically, spiritual things are about the best things in life which are not accessible to us commercially. If we want to meet God, it can only happen in emptiness and poverty of our heart. When the heart is full of lust for flesh and gold, chances are the Lord can find no place in it, no matter how fat is one’s donation to the church. The hard saying is, “it is much harder for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.” (Bro. Romy Abulad, SVD Bible Diary 2002)

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In one of the most lahar-stricken areas in central Luzon, I met a religious while we were distributing our school’s donation. She recounted her observations, experiences and stories shared to her by people during the tragic days. One thing that stuck to my mind was about the man who upon seeing recounted her his pig being eaten up by the lahar, dove to rescue the pig, oblivious of the warnings and pleadings of the neighbors. Before their eyes, they saw the man die, embracing his pig. What a foolish thing to do! But isn’t this what most of us are doing? It is truly a silly thing to die for false securities, isn’t it?

To die to our false securities such as money, landholdings, achievements, positions and power is what God challenges us to do  to gain eternal life. The rich young man (in yesterday;s gospel) asked, “All your commandments i have observed; what do I still lack?” Jesus’ response is the call for perfection and of discipleship. A radical follower of Jesus is one who is truly willing and able to risk the security of his/her riches and one who, like the Father, is perfect in his mercy and generosity to the poor.

If we are Christians whose greatest security is God’s promise of eternal life, then we would not dare ask the question of Peter, “What will be there for us since we have given up all and followed you?” What kind of Christians are we if we would first ask for our reward before doing a charitable act? “Segurista” or “musmos pa”? It’s like the pupil who when she was reminded to finish her project said: “Teacher, is there a plus?” But yes, there is indeed a plus given to us, Christians. Just look at the cross. Our reward had been given to us a long, long time ago. When we follow Jesus, there is nothing at all, and nothing more that we lack. (Sr. Trinidad Buenconsejo, SSpS Bible Diary 2004)

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When a human beings encounters God and experiences how much God loves him/her, he/she feels small, insignificant and unworthy before Him. This is a real experience of Moses, Jeremiah Gideon and the other prophets. Similarly, I had the same feeling when I was ordained almost 17 years ago. I felt unworthy of the gift of the priesthood.

Each one of us has a purpose and mission in life. Whenever profession or career we have, we are part of the whole plan of God. The mission that He entrusts us always goes beyond our human strength, so that he can fill in our limitation. God gives strength and hope when there is a task to be done and He is true to His promise to be with us. Furthermore, he invites us to collaborate with His plan as He did with Gideon in the first reading (Judge 6:11-24). As always the case, He looks in our hearts when he chooses us.  He acknowledges our strength and weaknesses. So when he calls us we ought to respond and trust in Him.

Rich people, whose security seems to lie alone in their wealth, power, prestige and influence, would find it difficult to trust God and enter the Kingdom of heaven. As the gospel says, “Truly, I say to you: it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Unless they undergo kenosis, that is, self-emptying, they would not recognize and acknowledge their dependency on God. Thus, self-emptying and allowing God to work in and through us in the events of our lives is the key to a meaningful and fruitful life! Gideon emptied himself; God was able to accomplish His plan through him. (Fr. Jerome Cayetano, SVD Bible Diary 2005)

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It was during the journee de la Patrimoine in Paris when i had an opportunity to enter Palais d’ Elysee, the Residential Palace of the President of France. The beauty of the place and the privileges attached to it made me realize why people crave for position and power. It gives one an impression that possession of the place is possession of the world. It makes one god-like.

The Prince of Tyre in the first reading, succumbed to the temptation of power and thought that he was god. He used his wisdom and intelligence to increase his treasuries and had grown haughty. God made him realize that he was sitting on the throne that did not last.

Jesus, in the gospel, made it clear to his disciples that it is difficult for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God because he could not let go of the idea that riches in this world are more important than what God can give.

Many people believe that “having something” is more important than “being with someone.” They would like to sit on the throne and be like god rather than being with God sitting on the throne. Our Beloved Mother has shown us an example that the most important crown of glory is being with God. (Fr. Redz B. Domino, SVD Bible Diary 2006)

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One day I found myself reflecting on why a fruit tree would labor from being a seed to bearing fruits – only to let others benefit from the fruits of its labor.

Though this paradox already helped me to see a parallel between nature and the Paschal Mystery as actualized in the Holy Eucharist, this in turn can help us grasp Jesus’ intent in His dialogue with the disciples in our gospel reading today. This dialogue was triggered by the rich young man’s refusal to dispose of his many possessions so as to have treasures in heaven. The young man, thinking that his riches were signs of God’s favor on him, must have wished to receive a formula from Jesus on how to perpetuate that divine favor. And Jesus did give him the formula , but the young man failed to appreciate it.

Well, as Jesus indicated, only God can make the impossible possible for us. And he did it through, with and in Jesus. Through Him, we see the Father’s self-denial in giving us His beloved Son; with Him, as He freely accepted His sufferings and death, we can feel His compassion in our own self-denying service for others; in Him, we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to be guided by the cross as we struggle to follow Him faithfully.

Seeing the heavenly Father’s self-denial is particularly helpful, because it is the best antidote against any resentment in heeding Jesus’ call to follow Him, especially that part when he said: “if you want to follow Me deny yourself…” (Fr. Kit Ramirez, SVD Bible Diary 2007)

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The story is told about a lawyer, who, while driving on a country road, encountered a crowd in one intersection. Thinking clever, and wanting to throw his weight around to get to the scene, he shouted, “Let me through! I am a relative of the victim! Upon hearing this, the crowd made way for him, and lo and behold, lying in front of everyone was a dead pig run over by a car.

There can be no “forcing through” heaven. Rich people, take note. This applies to those who think of themselves as materially or even spiritually rich. Only with humility can we enter heaven. “Loaded” and “heavy” people will have a difficult time to go to heaven. People who are “loaded” with themselves and are “heavy” with riches of this world will hardly make it.

The Lord reminds us today to let go, and let God. Without sacrifice, without generosity, we can never experience God now and in the hereafter.

It is not easy to go beyond our comfort zones. It is not easy to say goodbye. But this is what God requires. Of course, we can choose to say no, or take the road of compromise. But the challenge remains: let go and let God and you will have your reward a hundredfold more in this life and in the after life.

“It is only bodies that are separated but hearts always remain united especially in Him for whom the sacrifice is made of leaving all that is dearest.” (Fr. Jerry orbos, SVD Bible Diary 2008)

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Why did Jesus say, “It will be very hard for rich young people to enter the Kingdom of heaven?” It was because the rich young man had just refused his invitation to follow him. “The young man went away sad, because he was very rich.”

Riches and material possessions can take hold of our hearts so that there’s no more room for God. A person can be so attached to earthly things that he depends on them rather than on God. he has no need for God and it would be difficult for him to enter heaven, for it is his riches that he loves and not God.

Is it then impossible to be saved? Jesus answers, “This is impossible for human beings, but for God everything is possible.” With God’s help, one can be saved. Redirect one’s love towards God in order to be saved.

How about those people who have chosen to give up everything to follow him, what will they have? Jesus tells us that those  who have left everything for his sake will received a hundred times more and will be given eternal life.

What a reward for following him, the Kingdom of heaven in exchange for perishable riches! Let us not set our hearts on material possessions but be ready to give them up anytime he calls us to do so. We shall love God with all our soul, with all our heart, with all our mind and with all our strength. (Sr. Isabel Angela SSpS Bible Diary 2015)

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August 16, 2016 Tuesday

The gospel of the rich young man describes in a vivid and tragic manner the danger of riches and material possessions. This is known as the gospel of the great refusal about which Jesus teaches an unforgettable lesson: “It will be difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus uses a simple simile. It will be as difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven as it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Jesus does not say it will be impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. But that unless and until a person renounces false independence from God thinking he/she has everything that money can buy.

Unfortunately, money cannot buy everything even if some people say that money is the only thing. And money cannot save anyone. A person who grows in wealth and pride could forget dependence on God. His/her heart could grow haughty owing to material possessions and not realizing that things on earth are temporal and things spiritual are eternal. The possessions of mortals are also mortal and gone someday.

Humans are sadly never fully satisfied with what they have. Nothing seems to be enough. They fear the day when they may lose possessions. Hence life could become a strenuous and worried struggle to acquire more and more and to keep them as long as possible. The rich young man in the gospel is not given a name; he is not identified because he represents each one of us. We will all pass through “the needle’s e ye” unless we learn how to detach ourselves from riches and material possessions and get more attached to God by “choosing the better part.” (Fr. Louie A. Punzalan, SVD USC, Cebu City Bible Diary 2016)

rveritas-asia.org/daily-reflection/825-august-16-2016-tuesday

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Can a rich person get into heaven?

John Wesley

“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.”

– Matthew 19:24

SCRIPTURE FOCUS:        Matthew 19:16-30                 Mark 10:17-21            Luke 18:18-30

In the verses immediately preceding this quote by Jesus we have the story of a young man who ran to Jesus, knelt down, and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”  “I have kept all the commandments,” he said, “since I was young:  what do I still lack?”

Probably this young man had kept all the commandments in the literal sense:  but he still loved the world.  And Jesus knew that in this particular case, the young man could not be healed of such a desperate disease except through a desperate remedy.  So Jesus commanded, “Go sell all that you have, give it to the poor, and come and follow me.”  Upon hearing this the young man went away sad, because he owned so much.  This young man would not store up treasures in heaven at such a great price.

Seeing this, Jesus “Looked around and said to his disciples,” (Mark 10:23) “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.”  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God!”

The disciples were astonished at this remark and said among themselves, “Who then can be saved.”  The rich have so many great advantages.  They are free from worry about the basic necessities of life.  They do not face the thousands of difficulties of the poor.  If a rich man, with all these advantages has difficulty entering the kingdom of God, how could anyone else get in?

Some have argued that Jesus partially retracts his statement on the difficulty of salvation for the rich in Mark 10:24.  Here some manuscripts add to Jesus statement the phrase “those who trust in riches” seemingly watering down the position of having riches to trusting in them.  However, this phrase does not appear in the best manuscripts.  And even if the added phrase is accepted, consider that (1)  Jesus immediately confirms the idea again in the next verse by the awful declaration “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.”  (2)  But more important consider that all three sentences say the same thing.  For it indeed is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for those who have riches not to trust in them!

Jesus could see His disciples were astonished at this hard saying.  “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”  Can a rich person go to heaven?  Jesus’ answer:  It is possible but difficult.

So what is a “rich person?”  How much does it take to be “rich?” Are you rich?  “Rich man” here means not only a man who has heaped up gold like dust or silver like sand, but anyone who has more than the necessities and conveniences of life.  Anyone who has food and clothing for himself and his family and something more, is rich.

The kingdom of God and heaven mean the same thing.  But this does not directly relate to the kingdom of glory in the hereafter (though that, without question, will follow) but the “kingdom of heaven” is most directly related to true religion on earth.  In other words, Jesus is saying that it is absolutely impossible, unless by God’s power, that a rich person should be a Christian–to “have the mind that was in Christ” or to “walk as Jesus walked”  Such are the hindrances and temptations of riches.

How does wealth hinder holiness?  To list them would require a large volume, so we will only touch on a few of them.

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Riches–hindrance to holiness

Hindrance to faith

Consider the hindrance to faith prompted by riches.  The root of all religion is faith, without which it is impossible to please God .  There are several ways to interpret the term “faith.”

(1) You may consider faith as the “evidence of things not seen” –a belief in the invisible things of God.  If so, then riches hinder this kind of faith in that they tend to focus your mind on the visible and material rather than the invisible and eternal, thus making faith in the unseen difficult.

(2) Perhaps you take “faith” as meaning confidence or trust in God.  What a tendency for wealth to destroy this!  Having wealth tends to make a person trust in wealth.  Rather than looking to God for happiness or protection, the rich trust in their riches to provide these things.

(3)  Or if you take faith in the proper Christian sense, as a divine confidence in a pardoning God; riches are a deadly–almost insurmountable–hindrance to faith!  Can a rich man lay aside his power and prestige and come to God as a sinner on the level with his poorest employee; with the “beggar who lies at his gate full of sores?”    Can a rich man have saving faith?  Impossible; unless through some power that made the heavens and the earth.  Yet without humbling himself like this, a rich person cannot, in any sense, “enter into the kingdom of God.”

So however you understand faith, riches are a great hindrance to it.  This is why it is difficult–almost impossible–for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.  They are hindered from having faith.

Hindrance to love

Wealth is an equal hindrance to the first fruit of faith, loving God.  “If any man love the world,” the apostle Paul said, “the love of the father is not in him” How is it possible for a man or woman to not love the world who is constantly surrounded with all the world’s allurements?  How can this person still hear the still small voice which says, “My son, give me your heart?”  What power (unless the Almighty’s) enable the rich person to honestly sing,–

Keep me dead to all below,

Only Christ resolved to know;

Firm and disengaged, and free,

Seeking all my bliss in Thee!

Wealth is an obstacle to love of God.  But it is an equal hindrance to loving our neighbor as ourselves; that is, to loving all men and women as Christ loved us.  A rich man may indeed love people of his own party, race, or those of his own opinion.  He may love those who love him:  “Do not even the pagans do the same?”  But a rich person cannot have pure disinterested good-will to every child of man.  This kind of love can only spring from the love of God, which his great possessions expelled from his soul.  This is why it is difficult–almost impossible–for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.  They are hindered from loving.

Hindrance to humility

Where does humility come from?  The love of God is the source-spring of all true humility.  Therefore as far as riches hinder the love of God they likewise hinder true humility.  But beyond this, riches cut us off from conversations which might make us aware of our own defects, weaknesses, and shortcomings.  People seldom tell a rich man what they really think of him.  Without this frank and humbling conversation we are likely to grow old in our faults until we die at the zenith of our deeply rutted imperfections.  The rich are seldom humble.

Hindrance to meekness

Without humility, meekness cannot survive; for “of pride cometh contention”.  Jesus directs us to learn of Him and at the same time “to be meek and lowly in heart.”  Riches are as great a hindrance to meekness as they are to humility.  Wealth prevents an attitude of humility which, in turn, prevents meekness.  Why?  Because meekness increases in proportion to our own decreasing opinion of ourselves.  Conversely, the higher we think of ourselves, the less meekness we exhibit.  Thus, since riches inflate a person’s self-opinion it likewise decreases the Christian virtue of meekness.

This is why it is difficult–almost impossible–for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.

Hindrance to yieldedness

This Christian virtue is closely allied to meekness and humility.  For lack of a better term we shall call it “yieldedness.”  It is a readiness to submit to others, to give up our own will.  This seems to be the quality St. James credits to “the wisdom from above,” which we translate “easily entreated;” easy to be convinced of what is true; easily persuaded.  How rarely is this characteristic found in a rich person!

Hindrance to patience

How uncommon it is to find patience among the rich and powerful.  Unless, of course, there is the counterbalance of long and severe suffering, which God sometimes grants to rich people he loves, as an antidote to their riches.  This is not a rarity:  God sometimes sends pain and sickness or other great crosses to those who have great possessions.  By these means, “patience has its perfect work,” until they are “complete and lacking nothing” (James 1:4).

These are merely a few of the hindrance to holiness surrounding the rich on every side.  Riches poison the soul.  Riches keep the person from holy qualities like faith, love, humility, meekness, yieldedness, patience.  This is why it is difficult–almost impossible–for a rich person to be saved.

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Riches–temptation to sin

 

Not only are riches a great hindrance to holy qualities, they are likewise a temptation to unholy dispositions.

Temptation to Atheism

The greatest temptation which naturally flows from riches in Atheism–even to the extent of complete forgetfulness of God–as if there was no such Being in the universe.  “Enjoy life, you deserve it. . . you owe it to yourself” is the creed of the rich.  This philosophy is common and its prophets are persuasive:  “you only go around once in life, grab all the gusto you can.”  They presume that God (if there is one) is “watching from a distance” and all that matters is the tangible, the material; what you have and enjoy.  Materialism is Atheism.  Laugh on; play on; sing on; dance on:  but “For all these things God will bring you to judgment!”  (     )  Riches promote Atheism–living like the material is more important than the spiritual.  This is why rich people have great difficulty being Christians–it is much easier for the rich to be Atheists–at least practically live like an Atheist.  This is why it is difficult–almost impossible–for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.  Atheists do not enter the kingdom of God.  Atheists do not enter the kingdom–even those who do not claim to be Atheists, yet live like it.

Temptation to idolatry

From Atheism there is an easy transition to idolatry; from the worship of no God to the worship of false gods.  In fact, he who does not love God will sooner or later love the works of God’s hand–the creature, if not the creator.  To how many varieties of idolatry is the rich man or woman exposed!  He is under constant temptation to “love the world” in all its branches–“the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life.”

(1)  Desire of the flesh.  The rich person is under countless temptations to gratify the flesh.  Understand this clearly.  The “desire of the flesh” does not refer to only one desire, but gratifying all outward senses.  It is equal idolatry to seek our happiness in gratifying any of these senses.  Some may boast that they would never gratify the fleshly desire through sexual promiscuity or drunkenness, but they seek happiness in the sensuality of eating great feasts.  They avoid unhealthy alcohol taking care of their bodies; they just keep the soul dead through their sensuousness.

(2)  Desire of the eyes.  Rich people are equally surrounded by temptation from the “desire of the eyes;” that is, seeking happiness in gratifying the imagination, of which the eyes are the chief minister.  How do you get pleasure through the eyes?  The pleasures of the imagination are those things which are grand, wonderful, beautiful, or new.  Have you not found this true?  Rich people have a taste for grand objects and beautiful things. . . but especially for new things.  The desire for novelty–newness-is as natural to men and women as the desire for meat or drink.

Now, consider the multitude of temptations to this kind of idolatry, which naturally flow from riches!  How strongly are the rich tempted to seek happiness in grand and beautiful houses, in elegant furniture, in valuable and curious artwork, in luxurious automobiles, and perhaps in that most trivial of all trivialities–expensive designer clothing.  The rich of lower mentality must have every new thing which they are told is fashionable.

And the rich who are of a more elevated mind are tempted to seek happiness in poetry, history, music, philosophy, or curious arts and science.  Although these things all have their use and can be pursued purely, seeking happiness in any of them, instead of God, is outright idolatry.  Therefore since riches furnish a man or woman increasing opportunity to indulge these desires shouldn’t it be asked, “Is not the life of a rich person, above all others, full of great temptations to indulge the “desire of the eyes” on earth.

(3) The pride of life.  Or consider how much a rich man or woman is tempted to seek happiness in “the pride of life.”  The apostle Paul was not meaning pomp, or showing off, or traveling with an impressive entourage as much as the “honor that comes from men,” whether deserved or not.  A rich person is sure to encounter this; it is a trap he can not escape.  Why is it universally true that “if you do well” and increase in goods, “men will speak well of you.”  Riches bring honor.

And who can withstand this honor and applause without beginning to “think more highly of himself than he ought to think” succumbing to the temptation of the “pride of life.”  How can a rich person escape pride for this reason alone–his wealth attracts praise from every quarter?  Praise is generally poison to the soul; and the more pleasing, the more fatal.  This is particularly true when it is undeserved.  But not only praise–deserved or undeserved–but everything about the rich man or woman tends to inspire and increase pride.  The opulent home, elegant furniture, well-chosen art, expensive automobile, fine suits or dresses have an almost irresistible tendency to make the rich person think more highly of him or herself than they ought to think.  Riches bring the temptation to the “pride of life.”  This is why it is difficult–almost impossible–for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.  They are constantly tempted to idolatry–to gratify the desires of the flesh, or eyes, or submit to the temptation to the pride of life.

Temptation to self-will.

All of us start out life with a natural self-will–a selfish drive to have our own way.  Riches naturally feed and increase self-will.  Employees’ jobs depend on pleasing the rich owner or boss.  Friends and acquaintances work hard at obliging the rich person.  The rich person’s will is continually being indulged and thus strengthened; until eventually he or she is unable to submit to either God or men.  The rich inherit a great temptation to self-will.

Temptation to other sins.

Riches have a tendency to nourish every attribute which is contrary to the love of God.  But they have an equal tendency to feed every passion that is contrary to the love of our neighbor.  The rich are tempted to contempt, particularly to those who are inferior, and nothing is more contrary to love.  Or consider resentment of some supposed or real offense.  Perhaps even revenge, which God claims as His own peculiar prerogative.  But at least there is anger, for it easily arises in the mind of the rich, “What!  How dare they treat me this way!”  Related to anger is peevishness and irritability.  Are the rich guilty of these more than the poor?  Experience shows that they are.  The wealthy tend to be the hardest to please, considering any kind of less-than-perfect workmanship as a “cross to bear.”  They are the quickest to throw their weight around and insist that things be done over again–and right this time.  Ask any car wash attendant if this is true.  Peevishness and irritability are exceptional temptations of the rich.

Or consider how the rich are continually tempted to self-gratification, the opposite of self-denial.  Jesus “said to them all” (the whole multitude, not just the apostles only) “If any man will come after me,” (will be a real Christian) “let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”  (Luke 9:23)  How hard a saying for those who are living the good life among their piled up possessions!  But the Scripture cannot be ignored.  Therefore, unless a man or woman does indeed “deny self” every pleasure which diverts pleasure in God, “and take up his cross daily,” (obeys every command of God no matter how contrary to the flesh) he cannot be a disciple of Christ; he cannot “enter the kingdom of God.”

Think further about this important idea of self-denial.  How many rich people in today’s church really do actually “deny themselves and take up their cross daily?”  How many rich church people do you know who resolutely abstain from every pleasure unless they know that it prepares them for taking greater pleasure in God?  Who of you who are now rich deny yourselves like you did when you were poor?  Who willingly endure labor or pain like you did when your net worth was nothing?  Do you fast now as often as you did then?  Do you rise early to pray now as you did then?  Do you endure cold, or heat, wind, or rain as cheerfully as ever?  Do you see one reason why so few increase in possessions, without decreasing in grace?  Because they no longer deny themselves and take up their crosses daily.  They no longer endure hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

“Go to now, you rich men!  Weep and howl for the judgments that are coming upon you;”  The “canker of your gold and silver” will be “a testimony against you,” and will “eat your flesh as fire!”  What a pitiful condition!  And who will help you?  You need someone to deal plainly with you.  But few will speak as plain to you as to one of your children or employees.  No one who hopes to gain by your favor, or fears losing by your displeasure will tell you the truth.  O that God would cause these words to sink deep into your hearts!  You have been a friend of the church, and have given when the Lord’s work was in special need.  Might we even say you love God’s work and his ministers?

Here is the word for you.  You know that it is difficult–almost impossible–for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.  But it is possible with God.  Let your heart be whole with God!  Seek your happiness in Him alone.  Be careful to not cling to the dust of your riches.  “This earth is not your home.”  Work to use the world and enjoy God, rather than using God and enjoying the world.  Cling to all the things you possess as if you were a homeless refugee.  Be a good steward of the many gifts of God; so that when you are called forward to give an account, He will say “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord!”

Adapted by Keith Drury   Fall, 1988

From:  Sermon CVIII “On Riches” Wesley’s Works Volume—page 214-222

Laying up riches – a survey of the rich reveals how much they would pay on the average for specific items, such as $83,000 for great beauty and $640,000 to go to heaven – Brief Article – Column

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Christian Century,  Nov 19, 1997  by Martin E. Marty

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me,” says a character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Rich Boy. Fitzgerald’s notebook records Ernest Hemingway’s consequent remark: “Yes, they have more money.” We Bible believers also know (Prov. 22:2) that “the rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all.” We can deduce certain traits of the rich and the poor from a recent poll of the wealthy as reported in USA Today. Roper Starch Worldwide took a survey among the 1 percent of U.S. households that have at least $2.5 million in net worth or have an annual income of at least $250,000. What would these households pay for certain nontangible treasures?

“Being president” was worth only $55,000 to most of them. Who wants to take a pay cut or lose one’s assets in the variety of legal defenses that come a president’s way these days?

The rich would pay only $83,000 for “great beauty.” That’s probably what the rich–women and men–are already paying for cosmetics, spas and facelifts.

Talent? Worth $285,000 to the rich, who apparently consider themselves untalented. Great intellect? They’d pay $407,000, on the average. Love? “True love,” which they evidently aren’t receiving, is very desirable, worth $487,000, though “reunion with a lost love” would attract a $206,000 investment from a generation of wealth pipers. Eternal youth? The rich are smart enough to price it at only $259,000.

Eternal life? That’s different. For a place in heaven, the well-to-do would shell out $640,000. This investment strategy displays some theological savvy. While the Gospels do not exactly equate heaven with the kingdom of God, the two are close enough for our purposes. Jesus said it is harder for a rich person to get into the kingdom of God than for a camel to pass through the needle’s eye. What the poor can get free–“blessed are you poor”–the rich are willing to pay for.

And they know something, at least, of the comparative worth of this prize: $640,000 is only one fourth of these respondents’ net worth. More power to them, in a realm where power is made perfect in weakness. Roper can’t easily measure that.

COPYRIGHT 1997 The Christian Century Foundation

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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SHOW THEM THE RIGHT PATH (Mt 19:23-30): We are all in search of happiness. We want to be with each other in the search for happiness. But in our quest for happiness we may often be misled because the world presents a topsy-tu for examplervy map of the road to happiness.

It is very clear that the Lord wants happiness for us, too. The Lord wants us to be blessed. The beatitudes, which are in today’s gospel, show us to the road to holiness, happiness and to blessedness in His Kingdom.

The values of the Lord are so different from the values of the world. For example, the Lord says, “It is very difficult for the rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.”

There was one priest, a friend of mine, who said: “It is very difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. It is probably easier for the rich man to become president of the pastoral council.” So you see how distorted our views can be.

While the world extols, “Isang gabi, tatlong babae,” the Lord tells us “If you are pure of heart, you will be called children of God.” While the Lord tells us, “You must be merciful so that you will receive mercy from me,” the world tells us, “Hinukay ko na ang libingan mo.

This is the world which we live in. And it is a sorry world. Indeed, this world is truly unfortunate. Because of this, we have a mission to accomplish.

We are confronted daily with these values of the world. But we cannot allow ourselves to be carried away by such values because we belong to the Lord and only to the Lord, always to the Lord.

I have only one message for you. The world is distorted. We should correct the world. We should be the leaven in the dough.  We should give hope to the world. We should show the world the right thing to do. It is a mission. It is not an impossible mission. We can do that with God and in God alone. (Socrates Villegas, Only Jesus Always Jesus, p.14)

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August 21, 2012

St. Pius X, pope
(M) WHITE

Ez 28:1-10
Dt 32
Mt 19:23-30

The Rich and the Kingdom of Heaven

23Jesus said to his disciples, “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again 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.” 25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” 26Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” 27Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” 28Jesus 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. 29And 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. 30But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Reflection:

It will be hard for one who is rich. In the Gospel Jesus is not condemning wealth or riches. Being rich could mean one is blessed here on earth, but it does not mean one is assured entry into heaven. Entry into God’s kingdom is God’s gift, not the result of possessions or material wealth. Jesus presents to us the danger of riches which could capture one’s devotion to the point that it becomes an attachment that hinders us.

If a man is rich, he may think that anything can be bought. He may reach the conclusion that he does not need God anymore and can do everything without God. Being accustomed to material comforts, the rich man may forget the value of sacrifice and suffering. He may be tempted to cling to riches rather than live a life of sharing. A rich man may judge everything in terms of rewards and merits. He will not appreciate the truth that everything is grace, that salvation is God’s gift.

What do you consider as your security and success in this life?

Can you detach yourself from your material wealth and from worldly allurements?

ssp.ph/index.php/online-resources/366-days-with-the-lord/1944-august-21-2012

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v. 23: “It will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” It is not bad to be rich. But is not good to be a bad rich.  Wealth can make a person bad, whether he is rich or poor, depending on how he uses his wealth or how his wealth uses him. Be rich. Be good (Fr. Ching OP).

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TUESDAY OF THE 20TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A) – MATEO 19:23-30. Unsa may buhaton sa mga dato aron makasulod sa Gingharian sa Langit? Una, ang mga dato angay’ng magbantay nga dili mahimong ulipon sa bahandi. Dili nila angay’ng hutdon ang ilang panahon ug kusog sa pagpangita’g kwarta. Angay silang maghatag og panahon sa pagpalambo sa ilang espirituhanong kinabuhi, ilabina sa ilang relasyon uban sa Dios ug sa isigkaingon. Ikaduha, ang mga dato angay’ng magbantay nga dili mahimong laug. Kinahanglan nga makat-on sila sa pagpaambit sa ilang bahandi ngadto sa uban, ilabina sa mga kabos ug may panginahanglan. Ug ikatulo, ang mga dato kinahanglan adto mosalig sa Ginoo, dili sa ilang bahandi. Sayran nila nga ang labing nindot nga mga butang dili mabayran og salapi, apil niini ang gugma, kaluwasan ug kinabuhing dayon nga sa Dios lamang magagikan. Posted by Abet Uy

abetuy.blogspot.com/2014/08/tuesday-of-20th-week-in-ordinary-time.html

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Monday, August 17, 2015

TUESDAY OF THE 20TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR B) – MATEO 19:23-30. NGANONG NAGHATAG MAN SI HESUS OG MAKUSGANONG PAHIMANGNO NGADTO SA MGA DATO? Adunay pipila ka mga posibleng rason niini. Una sa tanan, ang bahandi makadasig sa tawo sa paghunahuna nga mabuhi siya bisan wala ang Dios. Magsalig na siya sa iyang kwarta ug dili na mosangpit sa Ginoo. Dugang pa niini, ang bahandi makapahimo sa tawo nga garboso, laog, ug buta sa malisod nga kahimtang sa uban. Kini ang gihulagway ni Hesus sa sambingay mahitungod sa usa ka dato ug sa kabos nga si Lazaro (Lukas 16:19-31). Ang ebanghelyo karon magdasig sa mga dato nga adto mosalig sa Dios, dili sa ilang bahandi, ug magmapaambiton sa ilang bahandi ngadto sa mga kabos. Nindot ang giingon ni Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Posted by Abet Uy

abetuy.blogspot.com/2015/08/tuesday-of-20th-week-in-ordinary-time_7.html

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Reflection for Tuesday August 19, Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time; Matthew 19:23-30 Reflection: The recent suicide of Robin Williams tells us that fame and fortune is not a guaranty to have inner peace and serenity. We may have all the material wealth of this world but it amounts to nothing if we are without inner peace.

In our gospel Jesus said to the disciples, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. This was in reference to the rich man in our gospel yesterday (Matthew 19:16-22) who couldn’t give-up his treasures in favor of the poor and his discipleship with Jesus. That rich man was actually invited by Jesus to become his follower but he declined the glorious offer because he held-on to his wealth.

It’s not actually bad to be rich it becomes a hazard to our well-being when we make our riches our God. That we are not willing to let it go for anything even for the sake of the kingdom of God. Therefore, when we are so in-love with our fleeting wealth we become capable of doing anything that Jesus abhors.

That’s why Jesus said in our gospel that 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. Because the more that we get richer the more that we distance ourselves from the love of Jesus yet the more that we give away our riches  the more that we become fit for the kingdom of God.

God created us to freely aspire for His kingdom in heaven and not to be permanently imprisoned by our riches in  this world. – Marino J. Dasmarinas

mjdasma.blogspot.com/2014/08/reflection-for-tuesday-august-19.html

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SO LORD, WHAT’S NEXT? – Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” – Matthew 19:27

Peter’s question is close to my heart. It’s the same question I asked when I went full-time for the Light of Jesus Family.

Before I said yes, I had a good career, good health benefits, the chance to work abroad, and many other opportunities. For me, that was everything.

But when the Lord called me, I couldn’t help but say yes. As a missionary, God provided me with greater things in my life — like peace of mind that what I’m doing is what I’m called to do, being mentored by the best preachers, attending Christian conferences abroad, and more importantly, being used as God’s instrument to bless people. I feel that greater blessings are coming because I’m doing something I love.

You may not be asked to resign from your job to follow God’s calling. You may never be called to go into full-time ministry. But whatever state you are in right now, do what you do best with greater purpose. You’ll be surprised that blessings will come chasing after you. Jan Carlo Silan (jan@makatifeast.com)

Reflection: Do you live your life with great joy or do you allow your day to pass by without giving your best?

Lord, give me the gift of wisdom to know my path. Bring me to greater heights as I carry out Your unique purpose for my life.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2014-08-19

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1ST READING – The arrogance of humanity is what led to the sin of Adam and Eve. It is this arrogance, the belief that we can stand on our own without God’s help, that continues to lead us into sin today. How do we overcome this arrogance and mistaken independence? There is no easy answer to this question. The answer has to do with the individual’s willingness to repent of his or her sins and surrender everything to follow God’s will. Ezekiel 28:1-10

GOSPEL – Wealth, material belongings, and all the good things of life are blessings from God. However, blessings can become a curse if we allow them to take control of our lives. When they become distractions in doing the will of God, they are no longer helping us but hindering us. It is essential that we do not let this happen. It is up to us to ensure that our hearts do not get distracted by the things of the world and keep our focus on following the way of Christ.Matthew 19:23-30

think:  Blessings can become a curse if we allow them to take control of our lives.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2014-08-19

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WHAT’S YOUR STUMBLING BLOCK? Our weaknesses are the points where Satan will attack us. This is why we should be honest with ourselves so that we can be alert when our weaknesses are in play. This is also where being a member of a faith community can be a great advantage because we can share our weaknesses with others and they will help us be vigilant against the works of Satan in our lives. However, if we do not admit our weaknesses, then Satan is laughing as he will be able to attack us there. He can easily win us over to his side if we do not protect ourselves from him as we should.

Jesus tells us that the first will be last and the last will be first. If we admit our weaknesses, we will more readily triumph in the long run. Those who insist on their own greatness, relying too much on their strength, will discover that eventually they will succumb to the wiles of Satan and the road back will be a long and winding one. The honest and humble person, while perhaps without a spectacular array of gifts in play, will be a better bet to make it through the trials and tribulations of his faith journey.

Another aspect of strength and wealth is that they do not make us entrust our lives easily into the hands of God. People like this are self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency is the archenemy of holiness. The work of holiness, from the point of view of the individual, is the process of surrendering everything to the work of the Holy Spirit. It is not we who make ourselves holy; we have to rely on God to do that. It is critical that we realize this. Until we surrender everything into God’s hands, we are crippled in our ability to achieve holiness. Fr. Steve Tynan, MGL

REFLECTION QUESTION: What are your weaknesses?

Jesus, help me to be honest with myself in identifying and accepting my weaknesses. May I more readily surrender them to You that You might be my strength in these areas of my life.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2014-08-19

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THE CURSE OF SELF-RELIANCE – “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:23

In my former job, I used to givelectures to would-be bank officers. Thetrainees were MA/MBA graduates andhave passed the officers’ qualifying exams. Being from the audit division, I lectured about the basics of internal control and gave practical case studies to hasten their learning. Then I’d give an exam of 100 items. One participant, however, got a score of 60-plus points.

The participant was furious and attacked me on the evaluation. Being a graduate of a prestigious school, it was probably unthinkable for him to get a low score. Only a humble acceptance on his part would help him realize that even smart people have inadequacies.

Jesus told His disciples that it would be hard for the rich to enter God’s Kingdom. The rich, whether in money, talent, intelligence or power, may have difficulty realizing their need for God because of their self-sufficiency. They may appear to have everything, but in reality are still deficient if they continueto reject God’s offer of salvation.

Be willing to give up anything God asks of you if you want to follow Him totally. Judith Concepcion (svp_jmc@yahoo.com)

Reflection: Are we so full of ourselves that God is having a hard time entering into our hearts?

Strip me, Lord, of whatever gets in the way of loving and following You.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2015-08-18

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THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE – “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven.”

A camel passing through the eye of a needle? Impossible! Does it mean that a rich person cannot enter heaven? Surely not. Jesus also had rich friends.

I came to understand this passage one day in Jerusalem. At the entrance to the Temple Mount, there is an old huge green gate that leads to the ancient Temple area. In this huge gate is a small door, just tall enough for a man to pass through. This small door was called “eye of the needle.”

When, for example, a merchant arrived with his loaded camel late in the evening, the city gate would already have been closed. To open the gate was dangerous because an enemy may be lurking nearby, waiting for the gate to be opened. The merchant would then unload the luggage from his camel, let it kneel, and push it through the narrow door. So, the camel was able to pass through the “eye of the needle” because the owner took away the luggage first.

The problem with a rich person is that there is no one to “unburden” him from his wealth. He often cannot detach himself from what hinders him from entering the Kingdom of God. We remember the rich young man we met in yesterday’s Gospel!

Jesus had rich friends. Think of Nicodemus who could afford to have a new tomb carved inside a rock. But when he saw Jesus dying on the cross, he did not hesitate to offer this tomb to bury Jesus — not knowing, of course, that Jesus would rise on the third day. Or we hear about Mary Magdalene and some rich women who left home to travel with Jesus and support Him and His disciples out of their means.

Both Nicodemus and the women were able to detach themselves and so “passed through the eye of the needle.” Why not follow their example? Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD

REFLECTION QUESTION: Do you cling to material possessions or are you able to detach yourself easily to help others?

Lord, You are the best example of detachment. You left the glory of heaven and became one of us to save us. Thank You for Your example and grant me the grace to imitate You.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2015-08-18

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PUT THE KINGDOM FIRST – “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:23

A priest once said that if you own millions more than what you need, then it’s not yours anymore. It is your duty to share them with those in need. It’s a tall order, especially in a nation where statistics say 20 percent of the population owns 80 percent of the country’s resources.

How I pray that those not willing to share, those accumulating wealth more than they can ever use in their lifetime, would turn around and build wealth for the next life rather than for this passing world. While there is still time. While it’s still the time of mercy. Cristy Galang (cristy_cc@yahoo.com)

Reflection: Where are you putting your time, treasure and talent? Are you focused on things on earth or on life eternal?

Lord Jesus, I offer all I do for Your greater glory. And I ask that You guide me to use my resources towards the building of Your Kingdom here on earth. With Your grace, may I prepare well for my life after I leave this world. Amen.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2016-08-16

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THE CAMEL AND THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE – In one of my visits to Jerusalem, I spent some time at the Temple Mount, where the grand temple that Jesus visited many times stood. He went there not only to pray but also to clean it from corruption, driving out vendors and moneychangers.

When I left the area, I passed through a huge green old gate. What puzzled me was a small door in the massive wooden gate. When a group of tourists approached, I listened to the explanation of the guide. At sunset, he said, city gates were usually closed to protect the city from enemies who might use the darkness to enter it. But there were always latecomers. To open the big, heavy gate for each of them was too difficult and dangerous because enemies could take advantage of the opening of the gate. And so there was a small door in the gate, the so-called “eye of the needle.”

When, for example, a merchant with a camel would arrive late, the small door would be opened, the merchant would unload the baggage from the camel and make the camel kneel in front of the “eye of the needle.” The owner would push the animal through the narrow door. The camel could enter because the owner had removed the bulky baggage.

Now I understood what Jesus meant when He said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God. The problem is that the rich person has no one to remove his “baggage,” i.e., his accumulated wealth. He had to do it himself and that seems to be very difficult for rich people.

It’s not that wealth is evil. It depends on how much a person has become attached to it, so attached that he is not able to detach himself anymore to share it with those who are poor and in need. Wealth is a gift from God to be shared. If wealth is understood and handled that way, it will not hinder one from passing through the “eye of the needle” and enter the Kingdom of God. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD

REFLECTION QUESTION: How attached are you to material things such that you hesitate to share them with those in need?

Thank You, Lord, for the lesson of the camel and the eye of the needle. Make me always aware that what I have is Your gift and that I need to share it with those who are in need. Amen.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2016-08-16

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August 18, 2015

Tuesday of 20th Week in the Ordinary Time

Judges 6:11-24, Mt 19:23-30

NAME’S SAKE

“As for those who have left houses, brothers…for my Name’s sake, they will receive a hundredfold, and be given eternal life” (Mt 19:29)

Leaving everything in following Jesus could be seen as loss by many. On the contrary, Jesus promises that it will remain not a loss but a gain in the long run, to be precise, when Jesus comes in glory on the day of the judgement. But there is a condition attached to this loss-and-gain-deal, namely ‘we must have left our possessions for the sake of His Name’.

Leaving everything for His Name shows our acceptance of that Name and its power in our life. We acknowledge and profess that the Name of Jesus is all powerful to bring salvation to all under heaven and on earth (Acts 4:12).

Leaving everything for His Name shows our attachment to His Name and the person of Jesus. Leaving everything is sure to cause inconvenience to us in daily lives. But if we leave them for His Name’s sake, these inconveniences would help us to grow in our relationship with Jesus.

Leaving everything for His Name’s sake will help us to have purposefulness in our lives. It will help us to concentrate our energy, talents, and actions on the person of Jesus till the end of our death.

Leaving everything for Jesus Name can never be a deal of loss, provided we leave them for the sake of Name of Jesus. FR. JOHNSON BEZALEL CMI

navchetana.com/web/homilies.php?date=2015-08-18

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August 16, 2016

REFLECTION: The saint we are remembering today is quite special: he is the only saint who was canonized along with his son! This happened in 1083.

Born a pagan sometime between 970 and 975 in Hungary, Stephen was baptized in his early youth and married Gisela, sister of the future Emperor Henry II. In 1001, Stephen was crowned king of Hungary. The seminomadic people of Hungary were then mostly pagan, and as a fervent Christian and a staunch supporter of the Church, Stephen worked hard to convert the Hungarians and to organize the Hungarian Church.

Since he was aware that his seminomadic people could survive only if they embraced Christianity and gave up their feudal divisions, Stephen eliminated everything which belonged to the old pagan order and transformed the tribal state into a “modern” state of Western pattern, independent of its neighbors.

As the years passed, Stephen wanted to entrust a greater part of the government to his only son, Emeric, a young man of deep piety, but in 1031 the 24-year-old prince was killed while hunting. Stephen had raised his son with such Christian care that the latter was eventually canonized with his father. What loving father could ask for more?

schoolofthewordonline.com/scriptural-library/daily-gospel/english/item/3617-august-16-2016

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See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: Tuesday of the 20th Week of they Year

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