Wis. 7:7-11; Heb 4:12-13; Mk 10:17-30
“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God,” (v. 25).
Does this statement include and hit those who are living in cozy subdivision like Forbes Park, Corinthian Garden s and Ayala Alabang in Manila? Does this statement too strike those who own big business corporations here in the Philippines? While the poor are the only people who can enter God’s kingdom? Not in this way.
Actually, money or wealth is not necessarily evil. Even Jesus had enjoyed the food, parties and the lodging offered by His rich friends. Also with money, you can do a lot of good like education for your children, use to buy our basic needs and for charitable works. But with money we do a lot of evil too. With our money, we can bribe, buy votes especially during election, hire goons and abuse people. What is a big, big no for money and wealth is the reversed value – instead of man possessed his riches, he becomes possessed by them.
On the other hand, poverty or being poor is not necessarily a virtue itself. For example, a poor who always curses his life because of his poverty, whose only obsession is to be rich like his wealthy neighbour is indeed very poor. But if, despite his poverty, can still turn to God, pray and worship to him; very active in the church activities and mission and help his fellowmen, then poverty becomes a Christian virtue. Detachment from material wealth is a one way of our attachment to God.
The young man in our gospel today tries to be a good person by following all the prescriptions of the law of his religion and he did not fail. He was so very proud of this. When Jesus saw this, Jesus was also happy and so He invites him to be His close friend, perhaps one of His disciples. Maybe he would have been selected to replace Judas Iscariot. But what Jesus wants from him is to do more of what he did before. Sad to say, the rich young man does not like the proposal of Jesus: to sell everything he has, give them to the poor and follow Him so that he can inherit God’s kingdom and eternal life. In other words, for us today, to be called Catholics is not enough. We should call ourselves true and real Christian Catholics. When we say Christian Catholics, the emphasis is not on the word ‘Catholic’ but on the word ‘Christian’ because there are Catholics today who are not Christians and there are Protestants who are not Christians too. The rich young man cannot accept this teaching and request of Jesus because his riches will not release him for he cannot release them. Perhaps this attitude of this young man could also be our attitude.
Willi Hoffsuemmer told a story about the founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley, that he had a dream. He came to the gates of hell and asked, “What kind of people are here, Catholics?” The answer was, “Yes, many.” “Also, Anglicans?” “Yes, many” was the answer. “Also Lutherans, Baptists and Orthodox?” The answer was always the same, “Yes, many.” And what about the Methodists?” “Also plenty,” was the answer.
Wesley was upset and also he went to the gates of heaven. He knocked at the door and asked the same question. “Are there any Catholics here?” “No, not a single one,” was the answer. “And Anglicans?” “No not one!” “What about Lutherans, Baptists and Orthodox?” “No, none,” was again the answer.
Finally he dared to ask, “what about Methodists?” “No, not a single one here.” Wesley was shocked and in exasperation asked, “Well, what kind of people are there in heaven anyway?”
The answer came, “Only Christians.”
Actually, what Jesus wants for each one of us is a total dedication of our being Christians to Him. Like for example, if you’re married already, live as a good wife or as a good husband and do not look for another person who is more handsome or beautiful than your partner; be a good employee or employer and many more.
To end this sharing of mine, let us reflect on these four important guiding statements:
- Remember you must let go sometimes;
- Find joy in giving rather than in grabbing;
- Live by the cross sign (+) rather than the Philippine peso (P) sign and
- Be assured that material wealth is passing security. You need lasting security.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle B