UCAN Spirituality Catholic Church News

August 20, Tuesday  Mt 19: 23-30
On Wealth, and Giving it up

The episode of the “rich young man” is followed by a saying of Jesus about riches and the Reign of God.

Jesus emphasizes the difficulty, nay the impossibility of those who are wealthy of ever finding a place in God’s kingdom. The hyperbole is graphic: it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle, than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

In conventional Jewish thinking, riches were the reward for righteousness, and Jesus’s teaching was more paradoxical than we can imagine. His disciples were astounded. “Then who can be saved?” they asked. Jesus’s reply indicates that God makes possible what men find impossible, viz. the renunciation of riches.

His disciples press the question: “But what about us?” We have given up so much to follow you, what can we expect in return? There is a crass materialistic expectation present, which Jesus doesn’t evade. Yes, his followers will receive many times over what they have given up in family and property. Even more, they will be placed in positions of authority ruling it over the ‘twelve tribes of Israel’. All this and eternal life as well.

Again and again, we see the patience with which Jesus teaches his disciples. He raises them from their selfish materialistic concerns to nobler altruistic values. What will I get for having given up so much? They ask. Much more than you can imagine, he replies.