Our Gospel reading for today may seem to pop out of thin air, if we haven't been reading what has been transpiring just prior. For if we just look at today's reading, Jesus appears to have a real problem with people of means, of wealth. But if we take today's reading in conjunction with yesterday's reading (and Saturday's as well), we will see Jesus painting a picture of what the Kingdom of God is like.
Today we hear the oft heard it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. And then he goes on to explain about people being appropriately focused on things that are important, and not transient things that fade. Yesterday, the first part of Chapter 19, Jesus points out the innocence of little children and how their approach to life is what we must mimic to be a part of the kingdom of God, followed by a conversation with a righteous and rich man who has followed all the laws and rules and yet wants to know how to ensure eternal life for himself. And Jesus tells him he should sell all that he owns and give it to the poor and then follow him. It is following this man's sad walk away that Jesus talks about the difficulty of wealth and the kingdom. In Saturday's reading Jesus berates the nit-picking Pharisees about Moses' permission concerning divorce. Jesus talks about the importance of fidelity and commitment and being focused, once again, on that which is important.
I honestly believe that Jesus did not "have it in for" people with wealth. He points to the truth that those of us of means can be at great risk for losing our way because of that wealth: being consumed by our humanness of wanting more, caring for our possessions more than we care for those who need our help. These last few days of readings have all been about being focused in the correct direction, and not getting lost: in the weeds of minutiae; in the caring of things over people; in the intolerance of difference. Scripture is directing us to evaluate what grabs our focus and attention and determine whether we are building the kingdom or undermining it.
Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.