I have to admit that I have a relatively comfortable life. While I am not wealthy, I certainly lack for almost nothing. My waistline will definitely attest to the fact that I am not starving. One could say that I am blessed by God, but I am not fool enough to believe that just because I am not poor, God somehow favors me over others. I do not believe that God loves me more than someone who is less fortunate than I am. That strikes me as being more than a bit arrogant, and certainly more than a bit foolish. But some people do see things just that way. The people of Jesus time did see things just that way. When Jesus proclaimed that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God they were genuinely shocked. Wealth was a sign of God’s favor. One who was sick or poor must have done some evil thing to deserve such a fate. A young man approaches Jesus and asks how he may attain eternal life. Jesus admonishes him to keep the commandments. He replies I do and have, all my life. Jesus then tells him, go and sell all you have, give it to the poor, then come and follow me. The young man was devastated. He was like me, like many of us. He had a comfortable life, possessions, to him signs of God’s favor. Give it away, be poor, like a sinner, like one who hadn’t followed the commandments? He simply could not do it. I don’t condemn him, I don’t know that I could do it either. But let’s not make the mistake that Jesus was condemning his wealth, that Jesus was opposed to what the young man had, Jesus wanted to know something else. What were his priorities? What was more important, his possessions, or God? What really mattered to him? Jesus asks that same question of us. What are our priorities? What comes first, your stuff, or God?
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct. 11, 2009