Readings: Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm 90; Hebrew 4:12-13 and Mark 10:17-30. THE EYE OF A NEEDLE. 10.10.2021
Today’s liturgy communicates to us the wisdom embedded in the metaphoric expression of Christ on the easiness of a camel passing through the eye of a needle than for the rich entering the Kingdom of God. The liturgy draws our attention to the danger of attachment to material possessions we often hold unto, which could deprive us of the Kingdom of God if not properly used. The young man in today’s Gospel came to Jesus and said, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit the eternal life?” He was in a state of confusion when he thought he had kept the whole law and yet had no fulfilment. He actually justified himself like the elder brother of the prodigal son when he said, “All these I have observed from my youth.” We recall the Sermon on the Mount, when Christ gave us the real meaning of the law, which is not just an outward exercise, but also a reflection of the heart.
We can have a heart filled with adultery and murder even if we have not committed it; or a heart filled with stealing, even if we have never stolen. God looks at the heart as well as the actions. Christ appreciated his effort in keeping the laws and made him understand what was lacking. He said, “Go, sell what you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven; and come follow me.” It is an invitation to accept the cost of discipleship, to detach from material wealth or his possessions, take up his cross and follow Christ. Christ’s intention was not to make him sad, he could be happy and fulfilled following Christ by detaching from his wealth and his possessions, but he went away sorrowful. From his action, Christ said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the Kingdom of God!” Riches tend to make us satisfied with this life, instead of longing for the age to come.
It must be acquired at the expense of acquiring God. Then it becomes metaphorically easier for camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man entering the Kingdom of God. In the Gospel Acclamation of today, which also forms the Sermon on the Mount, Christ said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven (Mathew 5:3).” In another occasion he said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and every other thing shall be added (Mathew 6:33).” Today he tells us “How hard it is for those who trust in their riches to enter the Kingdom of God.” The emphatic message of Christ is very clear: the Kingdom of God first and others (Luke 12:31).
If this is the case, what is it that occupies our hearts? Is it our possessions? Is it our position in work/office or business? Is it our wealth? Is it our achievements or fat accounts? Christ wants us to take him as the Prime Minister of our lives; to place him first before our material goods, because our wealth or money can buy us expensive bed but not sound sleep; it can buy us houses but not a peaceful and loving home; it can buy us books but not the gift of wisdom. Invariably, our quest for materialism can make us and equally break us if God is not involved. Solomon in the first reading prayed for wisdom, God blessed him with Wisdom and countless riches in which he rejoiced. He placed Wisdom (God) first before other things and God blessed him richly. He knew that if he chose Wisdom over kingdoms and thrones, he will hold sway over nations and peoples, and cause other kings to marvel. Solomon chose Wisdom because of its surpassing value. He chose Wisdom over health and beauty.
Health is not lasting, and so is far inferior to immortality (Wisdom 8:13). Beauty fades and can introduce sin as it was the case of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:2-5). Solomon also described wisdom as the light of God whose radiance never ceases. Wisdom is the brightness of eternal life which the young man in the Gospel was seeking. He finally affirms the good things that came to him through Wisdom. In view of this the Psalmist says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain wisdom of heart” (Ps 90:12). The second reading from the letter to the Hebrews tells us, “The Word of God is living (alive) and active, sharper than a two-edge sword… discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Living in God’s word is evidence of true discipleship (John 8:31).
The word of God enables us to fear God and seek Him first, and then other things shall be added unto us. We recall that the fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom. It is the first and the last of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Dear friends in Christ, as humans, it is hard to detach from people we are close to, environment and possessions that give us comfort and pleasure. The wisdom of today’s liturgy reminds us that there is something greater than these temporal satisfactions and fleeting pleasures we get from the world. If we are to possess anything, let us first possess the fear of God. When we do so, we can possess Wisdom, which Solomon chose above all. This Wisdom enables us to detach ourselves from material possessions, which can make us and also mar us if God is not involved. Happy Sunday!