AUGUST 17. Ord Time B. Tue. Mt. 19. 23-30
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you solemnly, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, I tell you again, 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.’ When the disciples heard this they were astonished. ‘Who can be saved, then?’ they said. Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men’ he told them, ‘this is impossible; for God everything is possible.’
Then Peter spoke. ‘What about us?’ he said to him ‘We have left everything and followed you. What are we to have, then?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I tell you solemnly, when all is made new and the Son of Man sits on his throne of glory, you will yourselves sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will be repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life.
‘Many who are first will be last, and the last, first.’
This reading continues the theme of yesterday and the rich young man; - with the lesson being how we need to monitor our desires closely as in both readings the central issue is what one desires, or “loves!”
And like the wealthy man yesterday we can have these loves / desires without being aware of them. He thought he was well advanced on the journey to holiness in that he was keeping the commandments, and he was shocked by what was required in order to make further progress
The issue in both readings is the temptation to love the world and to love God at the same time; - something Christ makes clear in today’s reading is not possible.
This is what he is teaching us when he says; - “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter into heaven!” The “rich man” being the man who “desires” or “loves” the things of this world.
But Christ also addresses the alternative in his response to Peter’s query; - “What about us; - we have left everything and followed you!”
Here Jesus makes clear what is at stake when it comes to desiring (or ‘loving’) the things of this world.
“Everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will be repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life”- repaid a hundred times, and obtain eternal life is the promise to all those who cease to “love” the world!
This is the promise made to those who choose to give their hearts, solely, to God and who renounce the attractions of the world and what it offers!
What Christ did, in becoming man, was to teach us how to give our hearts to God; - and he not only taught it; - but he also lived it first; - and now he is inviting us to follow him.
Which puts us in exactly the same position as the rich young man found himself in; - we are being invited to turn away from all the world has to offer and, in so doing ‘inherit eternal life!’
Gospel Acclamation 2Cor8:9
Jesus Christ was rich but he became poor
to make you rich out of his poverty.