Eye of the Needle

In today’s gospel we have the famous expression: “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God” It is a continuation of the encounter with the rich young man of yesterday’s gospel.   In other form, the expression also appears in the Jewish Talmud and in Qur’an 7:40: “Indeed, those who deny Our verses and are arrogant toward them – the gates of Heaven will not be opened for them, nor will they enter Paradise until a camel enters into the eye of a needle.” Continue reading

Eye of the Needle

In today’s gospel we have the famous expression: “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God” It is a continuation of the encounter with the rich young man of yesterday’s gospel.   In other form, the expression also appears in the Jewish Talmud and in Qur’an 7:40: “Indeed, those who deny Our verses and are arrogant toward them – the gates of Heaven will not be opened for them, nor will they enter Paradise until a camel enters into the eye of a needle.” Continue reading

Loopholes or love

ChineseJesus-rich-manJesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to (the) poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions…It is easier for a camel to pass through (the) eye of (a) needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

Ouch… from the moment we first heard those words, we have been looking for a loophole. I mean, seriously, is Jesus telling us to give away everything and follow him. It has to be a hyperbole, right? Oh my gosh… what if it is literal? What if wealth really is an obstacle to eternal life? What if God is truly calling us to give up everything we own? What if Mother Teresa and St. Francis had it right all along? Where does that leave the rest of us? It leaves us shuffling and looking for a loophole – like these: Continue reading

Inheriting the Kingdom: wealth

ChineseJesus-rich-manProblem of Wealth? 23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to pass through (the) eye of (a) needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”

Before we address the question of wealth, the larger question is really “Who can be saved?” The answer in v.21 is clear – human beings cannot save themselves. Just can’t do it. But, nothing is impossible for God. Stoffregen writes: “The answer to ‘how hard?’ is ‘It’s impossible.’ Whenever we make it ‘possible’ to do with enough work or sacrifice, we miss the radical nature of Jesus’ comments; which were especially revolting because (1) it was naturally assumed that the wealthy were closer to God and were more likely to be saved than the common people and (2) it was naturally assumed that those who kept the commandments were closer to God and were more likely to be saved than the common people. The man in our text fulfilled both requirements — but doesn’t enter the kingdom — at least not based on his righteousness or wealth.” Continue reading