August 18, 2020 (Tuesday of Week 20, Year II)
What must I do?
For various reasons, this question is one that we all ask at some point. Do you have to give up everything to become a disciple?
Today's gospel(Matthew 19:23-30) is a follow up to the encounter between Jesus and the rich young man who came to enquire, "Master what good work must I do to receive eternal life?" Jesus told him to go and keep the commandments and when he asked, which of them, Jesus told him, "Do not kill. Do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honour your father and mother, and love your neighbour as yourself." The young man however told Jesus he had kept all these, and asked what more? So Jesus told him, "If you wish to be perfect, go and sell all that you posses, and give the money to the poor...then come back and follow me." The young man on hearing this, went away sad. That informed the statement of Jesus today, "Truly I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven...it is easier for a carmel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
Is Jesus denouncing wealth? His disciples were surprised to hear him speak that way, because they see wealth as God’s blessing. That made Jesus to go further saying, "With men, it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible." Jesus' teaching in this passage, is meant to provoke a deep reflection. The use of “a carmel through the eye of a needle” is to show that heaven cannot be bought. It is not reserved for those who can pay for it with material wealth. That explains his reply to Peter who said, "Behold, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?" Jesus promised eternal life and a hundredfold of what they have given up. Jesus wanted the rich young man to stop hoarding his wealth and to become more generous in his dealings with others, particularly the poor. If he wants to go to heaven, he should think less of earthly things and focus more on eternal things. Jesus also invited him to become a disciple, since whatever he gives to the poor, he will receive back a hundredfold, in addition to eternal life. God's way to eternal life is the way of the beatitudes, the way of the Gospel, it is the narrow path. The carmel may not pass through the eye of a needle physically, yet nothing is impossible with God. Heaven is open to both the rich and the poor; poverty is not the passport to heaven--both the poor and the rich will account for how they have spent their lives in the service of God and their neighbour.
Let us pray: Lord help us to use our gifts for the good of humankind. May our material possessions not become a hinderance into life. Amen. May the Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.