August 16, 2011 - Tuesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

“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.” Most of the speculation and consideration of this verse is given to the first half about camels and needles, but the key to understanding the verse properly is understanding the second half properly. Most people seem to think that Jesus is saying that rich people will have a hard time getting into heaven. This is not what Jesus says.

What is the Kingdom of God? It is the reign of God. It is the fact of God being in charge. To enter the Kingdom of God means to accept that God is in charge of your life. Of course, entering the Kingdom of God in this life is a prerequisite to participating in the Resurrection, but they are two separate facts. Jesus is not saying that God does not let rich people into heaven; he is saying that rich people have a lot of trouble submitting to God’s will. It is a corollary to “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Poor people have an easier time submitting to God’s will.

Why? Perhaps because poor people are used to submitting to the will of another. Poor people are always having to do what someone else says. Rich people are used to having their own way. I have seen this fact with my own eyes. I have known many rich people, dedicated to the Church, but always insisting on living according to their own rules, like the Hollywood actor who did not like any parish nearby so he built his own chapel and hired his own priest, and now he has abandoned any pretense of following God.

It is so hard for the rich to let God reign in their hearts. It is impossible, humanly speaking, but with God all things are possible. So it does not matter if you are rich or poor, so long as you are letting God be in charge of everything. If you are having trouble giving up control, then get rid of your money or whatever else is stopping you. Love does not insist on having its own way. Sometimes we Christians have to insist on God’s way or on the Church’s way, but we should never insist on having our own way.