Grace to you!
Addressing his disciples after a noble rich man asked the question about what to do to inherit the kingdom of God, the Lord stated a shocking truth. “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again, I say to you, 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” (Mt 19:23-24).
Why is it going to be hard or very difficult (duskolos)—the original Greek word used in the text—for the wealthy to enter God’s kingdom? I have a few suggestions for our meditations today. I will focus on the metaphor of “the eye of a needle” in tomorrow’s reflection.
First, anything we possess we don’t need is a distraction. Hanging on to those things could make serving God and being of service to one another more difficult. Those things are a distraction to heavenly glory.
Second, if we spend energy on what we don’t need, we unwittingly fall short of doing, or spending our resources on what we need. What we don’t need is junk. Toss the junk and be freer. A sort of minimalism in terms of possessions is helpful here. Spiritual life thrives as much as junk of this kind is tossed.
Third, amassing wealth we don’t need has a way of increasing our love for ourselves. Another name for it is self-centeredness that could lead to narcissism. A narcissist hardly has space for another person, not even God; and, such a person hardly could make it to heaven. Self-absorption is heaven’s repulsion.
Fourth, riches, in the sense of what we don’t need, are to our spiritual life what excess fat is to our body. The imbalance of excess fat could be alluded to the spiritual imbalance which could occur. Many times, what we don’t need opens the door to anxiety. When we keep more than is necessary, we also spend more valuable time maintaining or protecting it, whereas we could use that time and energy on more important things. This can distract us from the divine path.
Fifth, the danger of hoarding is higher too. Hoarding isn’t simply about a cluttered home, office or car; it could also be about cluttered minds and foggy spirit. Constant worries about how the stock market is doing or how to maintain our homes which are beyond what we can manage, can be unnecessarily stressful. Also, the difficulty of managing our properties, securities, or our shares, etc., when they are more than we can reasonably handle, can be spiritually suffocating. Such is a hazard on heaven’s path. We need fresh air coming from having less than more. Sometimes, less is better than more. Here is a suggestion: if it is too much to manage and causes you unnecessary anxiety and sleepless nights, downsize.
Sixth, attachment to wealth has a lot to do with the worldly. If our heart is so attached to wealth, the temptation of a false god of “what I have” and a false sense of identity that “I am worth my bank accounts” is high. The danger is that God is placed secondary. It’s self-destructive too because it makes one think less of one’s true dignity as a person. Also, true appreciation of our neighbor’s dignity and relevance wouldn’t even have a chance.
Thus, if it is that difficult, though not impossible, for the rich to enter God’s kingdom, what are we expected to do?
Here is my simple spiritual advice: Whatever we have that we don’t need belongs to somebody else. For example, are there pairs of shoes or clothes in your closet you haven’t used in years? Are there books or pieces of furniture, etc., in your basement or in storage that are rusting away? It’s about time to gift them to someone who can use them. We would be doing ourselves a great spiritual favor if we declutter. If you haven’t worn that dress in six years, how do you expect you would in the seventh?
Being rich isn’t bad. It’s actually good. But not using our wealth for needs is a spiritual barrier. We don’t need that barrier.
Let’s pray for one another, for the grace of detachment and generosity. Amen.
By the way, today is my 14th priestly anniversary. Your prayers will be highly appreciated.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday Week 20, Ordinary Time: Jgs 6:11-24; Matthew 19:23-30]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.