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The rich and the Kingdom of heaven

(Gospel Reading: Mt 19:23-30)
Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven.

Again I say to you, 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.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Why? If we take at face value the statements of the rich young man (cf 19:16-22), it is not that he is an evil person, an oppressor, or an extortionist. He has kept the commandments – all of them – including the commandments not to steal, not to covet what belongs to somebody else, and to love his neighbor. The problem with the man is not that he is dishonorable; the trouble is that he is rich. The problem is not with the evil he has done to others, but with the evil his wealth is doing to him. Because he is rich, it is hard for him to surrender to God. He finds it painfully difficult to become humble like a child. His wealth reinforces his commitment to the present age and to his own status in it; his wealth underscores his self-sufficiency. One commentator observed: “The young man asked, ‘What good thing shall I do?’ and insisted, ‘All these things I have observed, what do I still lack?’ He assumes that entering the Kingdom of heaven is something that he can bid for and pull off on his own.”

“For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).
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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord 2016,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: books@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.