Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?”
But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
In both of today’s readings, we are explicitly warned about the perils of wealth. Ezekiel warns that money can create the illusion that those who possess wealth are gods. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says that “it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” If we take these words literally and at surface level, it seems that we should condemn the rich and laud the poor. However, the words of Scripture are always more complex than at first glance and push us to greater depth.
For both Ezekiel and Jesus, it is not just about money. They are both concerned that those who have everything cease being in relationship with God. When we have all kinds of resources, talents, relationships and wealth at our disposal, we stop including God in our life. Life then becomes about our plans and not God’s plan. In other words, Jesus’s and Ezekiel’s messages do not only hold for the billionaires of the world, but for each one of us.
Briefly examine your life and life plans. Did you include God in those plans? Did everything you have happen because you made it possible, or because God made it possible?
As the patriot Patrick Henry prepared for his death, he wrote: “I have now disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I wish I could give them and that is faith in Jesus Christ. If they had that and I had not given them a single shilling, they would have been rich; and if they had not that, and I had given them all the world, they would be poor indeed.”
Lord, let us be your presence this day. Give us the wisdom and the grace to discern what we need to surrender to you. Grant us the courage to trust in you and to look forward to the details of this day with renewed hope.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
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