Thursday, October 8, 2009

Travelling Light for the Journey

Twenty Eighth Ordinary Sunday Year B

Most of us have our own favourite bible verses. Some remember one of the beatitudes. Others like the teaching on love. But there are some bible verses that make us feel uneasy. Perhaps, this is what the second reading from Hebrews is trying to say: “The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts like any double-edged sword …” This is what the word of God does. It does not only console us in moments of difficulty but also challenges us during moments of contentment. It does not only promise blessings but also spells out the curses which arise from our failure to be faithful to God.

Today’s gospel is one such of these difficult passages in the bible. Jesus in the first part of the story merely repeats the Ten Commandments. For many of us, keeping the Ten Commandments is difficult enough. But when the rich man asked Jesus what more can be done since he has already kept all the commandments, Jesus throws this additional challenge to him: “Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

Is Jesus asking this from each and every one of us? Does Jesus want each of us to sell everything we have and give all that we possess to the world? This seems like utter foolishness. But for us Christians, this passage contains the most profound wisdom that has ever been taught. The wisdom which Jesus is trying to teach here is this: The kingdom of God is far greater than the kingdom of men. The kingdom of men will fade away but the kingdom of God will be eternal. This is the wisdom of God: that the treasures which we will find in heaven outweighs the riches which will accumulate on this earth. Unless we are prepared to let go of these things on this earth, we will not be able to gain the treasures in heaven. When our concerns are only on the things of this life, things which are temporary, things which fade, things which we cannot take with us after death, then we are truly foolish.

Being rich is not a sin. This is not what Jesus is trying to say in today’s gospel. Rather, he is challenging us to give up whatever may be an obstacle to following him, an obstacle to the realization of the kingdom of God. Each man may have a different obstacle. Perhaps for one man, his riches are his stumbling block. For another man, perhaps, his greed for power is his stumbling block. In trying to be powerful, this man has forgotten that power and authority is given to us by God in order to serve the community and not to control it. For another person, it may be some possession or even person who is the stumbling block. These possessions and persons may distract him from his call to be a follower of Jesus.

In order, to follow Jesus, we must remove these obstacles and lighten our burden. This is the meaning of the parable of the camel passing through the eye of a needle. The eye of a needle was the name given to a rock formation near Jerusalem with a big hole in the centre. An ordinary camel can pass through this hole in the rock but a camel laden with goods and the belongings of its master will not be able to pass through. The moral of the story is that we must travel light. If we want to pass through the eye of the needle, if we want to enter the kingdom of God, we must be prepared to let go of the many obstacles that will prevent us from passing through – our riches, our pride, our possessions, our power.

Perhaps, you may be saying that this is impossible. Well, Jesus gives us this hopeful assurance: “For men it is impossible, but not for God; because everything is possible for God.” Let us ask God for this special grace to be able to give up all the attachments that will prevent us from following Jesus into the kingdom of heaven.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Terms of Use: As additional measure for security, please sign in before you leave your comments.

Please note that foul language will not be tolerated. Comments that include profanity, personal attacks, and antisocial behaviour such as "spamming" and "trolling" will be removed. Violators run the risk of being blocked permanently. You are fully responsible for the content you post. Please be responsible and stay on topic.