I would like to say a very special thank you to everyone who came out last Sunday to support Life Chain 2015. It was a bit chilly out, but the support of so many passers by made it seem a little less cold. It is always good to be a witness for those who cannot speak for themselves and to support the sanctity of life.
In today’s Gospel reading, Our Lord tells a rich young man to sell what he has, give it to the poor, and to follow Him. The young man goes away sad, unwilling to take that radical step in discipleship.
Christ then goes on to exclaim to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”
This statement worries me, and it seems to have worried his disciples as well, as the Scriptures report that they were amazed at Jesus’ words… so much so that when they questioned Our Lord, He seems to have doubled down on His statement and told them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 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.”
Now, I’ve heard the stories about camel caravans and a narrow gate in Jerusalem that it was somewhat difficult but far from impossible for a camel to pass through. Those stories are utter bunk, made up by tour guides to reassure wealthy visitors to Jerusalem. Let’s set those stories aside (along with their semi-pelagianistic leanings) and assume that Our Lord meant what He said: that just as a camel cannot pass through the eye of a needle, a rich man cannot enter heaven.
That idea is very frightening, indeed. Compared to the American standard of wealth, I’m not what might be considered overly wealthy. Like many of the parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes, I’m comfortable, not complaining, but not rich, either. However, compared to a standard that encompasses all of the world’s people, I am exceptionally wealthy.
Can I be saved? Can you? Or does our wealth doom us? The answer is simple: left to our own devices, our wealth dooms us. But Christ does not leave us to our own devices; He makes possible our salvation. Still, to those who are given much, much is expected. We have been given great gifts, many of which we receive by simple virtue of when and where we were born. It is incumbent upon us to use some of what we are given in service to Christ and His Church. After all, it was given freely to us and we in turn should give freely to those less fortunate.