Sunday, October 14

In today’s Gospel , Mark 10:17-30, we hear about a rich young man who wanted eternal life. He came to Jesus to ask what he needed to do to have it. Jesus told him to keep the commandments of God and enumerated some of them. The young man said he had done these things all his life. And Jesus, looking at him, loved him. So far everything is honest and moving forward. No hesitation, no holding back. This sort of honesty, humility, engenders love. But the story goes on. Jesus now challenges the youth. There is one more thing to do. Give everything away, sell it, give the proceeds to the poor and come follow Jesus. That’s really very simple. Simplicity ought never be confused with ease. The young man, who had great possessions, turned and walked sadly away. He walked away from Jesus.

 

We don’t know what happened to the man after that. There is no more mention of him in the Word of God. But Jesus did talk about his situation. About being rich and being right. He said it was easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to go to heaven. And the apostles were awe-struck at this thought. At that time material blessings were viewed as being a sign that God approved of the person and that’s why they were so blessed. If, on the other hand, a person was struck down by misfortune and loss this was considered a sure sign of sin and the resultant displeasure of God. So if a rich man, so obviously loved and blessed by God, couldn’t get to Heaven then who could?! But these ideas are a mistake and there is much more to gaining Heaven than earthly possessions that moths and rust consume. The apostles and others had yet to learn these lessons.

 

When we think of a needle’s eye we think of a sewing needle. This isn’t what Jesus meant. In Jerusalem there was a gate, a very small gate, that a camel COULD pass through but there was only one way for the camel to do it. Camels are beasts of burden. They carry passengers and stuff. Stuff being merchandise, provisions, water bags, etc. For a camel to go through this gate everything it carried had to be set aside. Only then could the animal fit.

 

There is nothing wrong with stuff. We need homes and clothes and cars and food and other stuff. We’re physical and have physical needs. God knows this, it’s why He made stuff. Stuff is neither good nor bad. The use we put it to determines its worth and utility. But, while there’s nothing wrong with stuff or enjoying it there is a lot wrong with loving it to the point of putting stuff first. Only God comes first. Others come second. Then maybe there is room for stuff kept in proper perspective.

 

Like the camel at the Needles Eye gate Jesus requires that we put all else aside, love Him and put Him first, if we truly want to be with Him in His Kingdom. We need to want that most of all, more than we want stuff. God takes second place to no one and no thing.

 

Matthew 10:37-39.

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Published in: on October 14, 2012 at 7:49 am  Comments Off on Sunday, October 14  
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