The great English Catholic G. K. Chesterton once remarked that ever since Jesus insisted that it’s easier for a camel to squeeze through a needle’s eye than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, we’ve been frantically trying to build bigger needles and breed smaller camels!
People of every generation have found this teaching of our Lord hard to swallow. It certainly shocked the disciples, as we just heard. And this saying can make us uncomfortable too, because so often we seek our comfort in the things of this world.
Jesus is not saying that we don’t have legitimate financial needs. We most certainly do! And he wants us to pray for them. What Jesus is saying, however, is that when our wants become needs, we cross the border into the land of idolatry, which is a dangerous and foolish thing to do. Because to love riches more than God is, as Bishop Robert Morneau has put it, to commit spiritual adultery.
And so today’s gospel challenges us to consider our priorities, to evaluate our goals, and assess how we spend our time and energy, to determine if we have de-throned almighty God as Lord of our life, and replaced him with the “almighty” dollar. Because if we wish to enter God’s kingdom, we must seek it, first of all.
Readings for today’s Mass: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081611.cfm
Photo Credit: ross_hawkes via Creative Commons
3 Replies to “Smaller Camels, Bigger Needles”
Made me think of a line from an old song (old for a rock song anyway) , which was surely intended to point to the irony-
“Almighty dollar says ‘In God we Trust'”
Is it safe to say that Jesus is asking us to not just to concern ourselves with our material or worldly needs, but also, just as he told the rich man, to divest ourselves with all of our attachments? I understand that we cannot be detached unless we are attached to something, and so Jesus is asking us to examine our priorities. Like Gideon in the first reading, we are invited to do something beyond our capabilities, but we can be victorious if we accept the Lord’s action in our lives. It is difficult for us, without the Lord, to be a witness to our Faith, to give up what we consider to be important in this world, or to even be faithful in prayer, and so on. There was a saying among the Jews that said that the stuff on the camel’s back has to be unloaded for it to be able to pass through that narrow gate. I would like to think, in this regard, that Jesus is also asking us to unload ourselves of those things that prevent us from putting God as the most important priority in our lives. So easy to say, but so difficult to achieve without true cvommitment to a disciplined prayer life.
Thank you, Fr. Hurd, for challenging us to examine ourselves through your concise, but powerful message, of your posts. I have read all of them.
@Regine- Thanks for your kind words. Yes, to place God first in our lives, over and above anything and everything else, is often counter-cultural, and cannot be done without disciplined prayer and large doses or grace!
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