August 21, 2012 - Memorial of Saint Pius X, Pope

Ezekiel 28:1-10
Deuteronomy 32:26-28, 30, 35-36
Matthew 19:23-30

Why is it difficult for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God? Because the rich believe that they are God. Of course, here we are speaking of the rich in spirit. A person may have many possessions but see them as a stewardship for the good of all. The rich in spirit believe that they are gods, as it says in the first reading today: the prince of Tyre believed that he was a god. What does this mean? God provides for us. For a person to believe that they are a god, they must believe that they provide for themselves. The attitude being condemned today, the attitude which makes it so difficult for the rich to enter into the Kingdom of God, is the quintessential American attitude of self-reliance. If I rely on myself, why would I need to rely on God? If I built up what I possess today, why would I need to thank God for it? To enter the Kingdom of God is to allow God to be the king of my life.

It is said that Satan did not believe that he could surpass God, for he was very knowledgeable and intelligent. What he hoped to do was to take for himself rather than receive from God. He wanted to be independent of God, and this was his great sin. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve reached out and took for themselves what God had not yet offered them. Who knows? It is likely that they were supposed to eat the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil one day, but not until God served it to them.

The attitude that is necessary in order to enter the Kingdom of God is a willingness to receive a gift rather than try to grasp at it. The willingness to be dependent. The rich do not know how to do this; they have always provided for themselves. This attitude requires trust: trust that God will in fact provide what we need when we need it. In this matter, we must fight our inclination to depend on ourselves. God is the only one who can provide what we really need. What we provide for ourselves is just an illusion, but until we learn to stop trying to provide for ourselves and trust God, we will never be able to let go of the illusion and accept the real gift.