Tuesday, 20th Week in Ordinary Time

            “It will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

            The passage preceding today’s gospel reading is about the rich young man who asks Jesus: “What good must I do to gain eternal life?” Apparently, the rich refuses to give up his possessions and follow the Lord. Jesus uses this occasion to say that riches pose a real obstacle to discipleship. He is telling us in today’s gospel reading that obsession to possessions is a real danger because it stands in the way of our total participation in God’s life.

            We must honestly examine ourselves and find out what is preventing us from entering through the narrow gate of the kingdom of God. It might be our working too much to be ahead and get rich so much so that we do not have time to pray anymore. It might be our being too preoccupied with material possessions so much so that we neglect our spiritual life. It might be our over-indulging in worldly entertainment and pleasures so much so that we fail to satisfy the deeper needs of our souls. Indeed, we need to get rid of everything that prevents us from entering the narrow gate of the kingdom of God.

            Our possessions, all the things we cling to and depend on, all the things we hold on to and hoard for our security make our life too complex or complicated, thus, they hinder us from following Jesus more closely and more faithfully. These are the things that Jesus is telling us to “sell and give away” if we want full participation in the everlasting life. We have to constantly ask: Are we ready to let go of everything to follow Jesus, to let go for the sake of the kingdom of God?

            Certainly, Jesus does not condemn wealth or possessions in themselves. When he says that “It is easier for the camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God”, Jesus is not condemning the rich. He is saying quite plainly that the rich will have a hard time attaining eternal life, not because of their status or wealth but because of their attachment to the things of this world. Riches and material possessions can generate a false sense of security or “gaining life.”

            Today’s gospel is an invitation for us to examine ourselves and ask: Am I possessed and dominated by things? Where have I invested my heart? It is, indeed, a great tragedy if it turns out that what we possess starts to possess us. So, let us humbly ask the Lord to free us from this kind of attachment. Let us allow the Lord to free us from obsession to possessions.

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