Our western civilization, even in these difficult economic times, is one of the wealthiest in history. So when we hear Mark’s Gospel today, it might cause us to panic. But it is not wealth itself that poses the biggest threat to our salvation, but rather the attachments we form to the things that wealth buys. We lament often about our society’s fascination with our “toys” – Depending on our interest, we may long for a big screen TV, the latest I-Pad or I-phone or a new car, top of the line golf clubs, or a big house or any of the myriad of other items we see on TV or in the ads. And we should be clear. These things are not evil in themselves, but certainly our attachment to them – both in the longing and in the possession can turn these things to evil for us. If the possessions cause us to make bad choices – such as not sharing what we have with those who are in need, or spending an inordinate time with our toys and hobbies – or if our possessions become an obstacle in our relationship with God, then these things do become evil and impede our entrance into eternal life.
The last two lines of today’s gospel, however, tell a story of everlasting hope. As members of our wealthy society today, it certainly will be hard to enter heaven. In fact, it’s probably accurate to say that most of us as members of our culture today could never achieve heaven on our own. But not to worry, God has our back. Yes, we are going to make mistakes, give in to temptations, but God is there for us. God will forgive us and God will love us. As today’s Gospel tells us, it is probably impossible for us to achieve heaven, but for God, it is possible.
Let us pray for God’s mercy and rejoice always in the love God shared with us through the passion and death of Jesus, our Savior.
Mary Lou Butler is a long-time friend and partner in ministry to the Passionists in California.