In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus talks to His disciples about the difficulty of the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Some people interpret the image of "the eye of a needle" as a low or narrow passageway. But as others scholars say, we should accept the image at face value. Jesus is telling us that it is as difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven as it is for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye.
We can be tempted to gloss over how radical this statement is. The disciples themselves are astonished and ask,"Who then can be saved?’ When we get caught up in amassing wealth or material possessions it can be tempting to try to fit the Gospel into sanctioning our desires, and so it becomes easy to pass over Scripture passages such as the one we read today.
But if we take the time to listen to what Jesus is telling us, we see that what He says is true. Often our possessions can distract us from what is really important. Often having a lot leads us to wanting more, not less. When we hear, "The one who has the most toys at the end, wins," it almost seems reasonable.
The best way out of being seduced into a false notion of wealth and possessions bringing us happiness and security is turning to God in gratitude. When we are grateful for what God has given us, and we realize that all is a gift from God, the desire to have more has less power over us, and we are more attuned to the kingdom of heaven and God’s will for us. May God give us the grace to pursue His kingdom instead of the world’s riches.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P. is pastor of St. Mary’s Parish, Fairfield, Alabama