How Hard to be Rich

Matthew 19: 23-30
Ezek.28:1-10 / Dt.32:26-28,30,35-36

I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 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.
(Matthew 19:23-24)

Often, wealth is an obstacle
To enter the kingdom of heaven;
But for God all things are possible
To those whom faith has been given.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 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.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” (Matthew 19:23-30)

Reflection

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, two of the richest men in the world, decided to donate half of their wealth to humanitarian causes, along with 40 other billionaires, whose combined pledges have amounted to more than 200 billion dollars. While this is truly welcome news that will make a powerful impact in improving the lives of millions of the world’s impoverished, their “sacrifices” count for nothing in comparison to the exemplary contributions of St. Paul, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Mahatma Gandhi, and many other missionaries who gave up everything for the sake of their calling. As Jesus pointed out in another occasion, the poor widow put in more than all the other donors to the treasury, for they all gave from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, had given all that she had, her whole livelihood (Mk.12:43-44).

How wise and true the words of our Lord Jesus are when He said the wealthy will find it almost impossible to enter the kingdom of God (unless they are “poor in spirit”). In the first place, the greater one’s wealth, the greater the distractions and temptations of this world, blinding the rich from seeing life’s true treasure. And in most cases, the rich can hardly be expected to humble themselves and carry their crosses to follow Jesus. (What crosses?) On the contrary, great wealth engenders a powerful sense of power and self-sufficiency, negating any dependence on Divine Providence or need for God. Even the wisdom of King Solomon failed to sustain his fidelity to God because of his great wealth. And finally, there is the element of attachment, the most insurmountable obstacle in the path to Life. Jesus offered the rich young ruler the complete assurance of gaining eternal life, but he refused and went away sad, because he was totally addicted to his riches. As the prophet Ezekiel says in the first reading: ”By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth, and because of your wealth your heart has grown proud” (Ezek.28:5).

What is it with wealth that makes us forget that life here on earth is but a drop of water, compared to the ocean of eternal life in the Father’s kingdom? And isn’t that where we all aspire to reach? Then why are we still clinging on to what is fading and corruptible and hindering us from reaching our eternal goal? Again, the answer lies in the Word of God which teaches us, “the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people, in their desire for it, have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains” (1Tim 6:10). Truly then, the problem is not wealth, but what is in our hearts, for where our treasure is there also will our heart be (Mt 6:21).

Dear God, let my heart be like the Sacred Heart of Jesus, always mindful of mercy towards others, and always meek and forgiving. Grant this so that the lure of wealth may never distract my heart from striving for the true treasure in life, which is Thy heavenly kingdom. Amen.

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