The best way to understand today’s Gospel passage is to read it in the context of that of yesterday. Jesus spoke about riches not because he hated the rich but because a young rich man had just come to him who loved his wealth more than his desire to inherit eternal life.
When Jesus saw how the young man walked away in sorrow, Jesus shook his head and declared: “How hard it is for the rich to enter into the kingdom of God. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Up on till the year 2014, I assumed Jesus was talking about the needle we use in sewing clothes and I considered how tiny a needle was compared to the size of a camel. However, that year, I was lucky to go for a pilgrimage and I learnt that there is a particular gate into the city of Jerusalem called “the eye of a needle.” This gate is indeed very small, I had to squeeze through myself.
The point Jesus is making here is that it is very easy for wealth and the desire for riches to take the place of God in our lives. Indeed, looking at our society today and seeing how people are ready to do just anything to become rich, we cannot deny the fact that as a society, we all worship money.
How? We respect the rich more than the poor. We bow before the rich without bothering to find out the source of their wealth. In the palace, the rich are adorned with chieftaincy titles. In politics, the wealthier a person is, the more likely for him to win an election into political office.
Even in the church, the rich are more respected than the poor, they come very late to church yet, they are ushered in to the front seats. After collecting huge tithes and seeds from them, we men of God do not mind idolizing them. We change the topic of our homilies when we see them in church so as not to offend them with the truth.
Yesterday, I read about a man who killed his two children for rituals just because he wanted to be rich. There are thousands of cases of persons who went missing only for their bodies to be discovered with all their vital organs removed; cases of people sleeping with mad women, fathers sleeping with their children or sons sleeping with their mothers as part of the rituals required to become rich; we have yahoo boys who visit witch doctors to receive power in other to defraud people online; our girls are known worldwide for prostitution; our men are drug peddlers; our politicians stealing and looting as if there is no tomorrow…
I may go on and on, the fact remains that our society today worships money. We have thrown all our values to the wind. We do not have any atom of fear for God. We tell lies, we steal, we cheat, we kill, we do everything God hates just because we want to make money. Yet, we still deceive ourselves by dressing very nice to church saying we are serving God.
Jesus is saying to us today that our desire for riches, our willingness to bow to the god of money and obey his commands will not allow us enter heaven. Because we are so attached to our wealth, because we cannot imagine our life without our riches, it will be so hard, very hard for us to enter heaven.
In our first reading, God sent an Angel to Gideon saying he would be the one to deliver his nation. Up on till that time, Gideon looked down on himself as the smallest from the weakest tribe of Israel. He saw himself as a weakling but God saw him as a mighty man of valour. What a contradiction.
How do I see myself? Do I really know my potentials? Do I know what I am capable of doing if only I draw closer to God? What if I stop pursuing riches with all my heart and mind and start giving God his due?
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Tuesday of the Twentieth week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study Judges 6:11-24 and Matthew 19:23-30).