On How One Can Enter the Kingdom of Heaven
Reflection on the Gospel of the Tuesday In The Nineteenth Week In Ordinary Time
This statement of Jesus is very difficult to understand in its complete sense, because of the words used and the illustration of the camel and the eye of a needle, that Jesus uses. But we have to look at the background in which Matthew places this statement of Jesus.
Jesus says these lines in response to a Rich Young Man who has just visited him
- The Young Man was a devout Jew.
- living his life in accordance with the Law.
- Yet he was inquiring with Jesus the way to Eternal Life.
- This helps us understand his sincerity in wanting to please God.
- Against this we have the opposite example of the Pharisees and scribes
- who lived their lives in accordance with the legal requirements of the law
- but their hearts were far away
- Jesus points to him, that he requires to give up his wealth and follow him
- to which the rich man goes away dejected
- This young man had made the gathering of wealth the priority in his life
- He did not wish to push it aside and
- Let God take the first place in his life
- It is not that God despises wealth
- he wishes to show us that wealth and riches have an ability to blind us
- blind us to the truth
- thus we end up getting rolled up in slime even more.
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.”
- A camel was an animal used by traders and was often overladen with goods.
- Jesus is drawing similarity between a rich person and a traders camel.
- When the Main Big Gate of a city was closed
- the smaller side gate was used to enter the city.
- At such times it was easy for the trader to unburden his camel
- and move his goods and camel into the city through the narrow side gate.
- But a Rich Person, already blinded by his riches
- cannot see the practicality of removing the obstacles in his life that prevent him from entering.
- He rather stay outside of the protection of the city gates and face the dangers therein.
- he may even loose his life in the bargain.
- Pride and false self-esteem that the love of wealth brings in, eventually destroys a person
“Who then can be saved?”
- The disciples understand what Jesus is teaching them
- but they ask Jesus
- in this world
- which revolves around wealth and money
- how can one not chase money
- This is a question even those today reflect upon many a times.
- Jesus answers in light of his teaching in Matthew 6
- for humanity to find a balance and proper way to respond to God and Money is difficult
- This can only be brought about by God’s Spirit in our lives
- Matthew 6:33 says – Seek First God’s Kingdom, and he will help you with everything else.
- If we don’t take God at his word, and don’t pursue him
- we will not be able to see how he provides for us, each day, each moment.