“How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 7:7 - 11

I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire. Beyond health and comeliness I loved her, and I chose to have her rather than the light, because the splendor of her never yields to sleep. Yet all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands.

Hebrews 4:12 - 13

Brothers and sisters: Indeed the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.

Mark 10:17 - 30

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother." He replied and said to him, "Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth." Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 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." They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God." Peter began to say to him, "We have given up everything and followed you." Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come."

“How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” Jesus said to his disciples in this Sunday’s Gospel Reading (Mark 10:23). For those of us who live in the affluent first world, we are well to do, to say the least. It is easier for us to own a house or houses, a car or cars, the latest electronic devices, go on vacations, have investments and put away savings for the future. Are we not rich? We may not consider ourselves rich, because in the first world, personal assets are measured in billions. But compared to the rest of the world, we are living in luxury. The Gospel Reading is a powerful reminder that the lifestyle that comes with worldly success and riches will lead us into temptation, and excessive pursuit of material things and pleasures will lead to an insatiable craving, creating a spiritual void in us that is the root cause of sin.

When we see the wealth accumulation by big businesses in the global economy, we can see easily the exploitation behind the wealth accumulation, exploitation of the country where they establish their business and exploitation of the workers who work there. But we must be mindful that it is not only big businesses that exploit, we may also be exploiting although inadvertently. Have we been stingy with the tip to servers in restaurants? How about the elderly handy person, gardener or cleaning person. Are they getting their fair share of compensation? We must make sure we do not play a part in creating income polarization in society and in the world and in making the poor poorer.

We must be mindful that in many ways, we fit into the category of those who have wealth that Jesus talked about. Other than living responsibly, there are a myriad of things that we can do for our own sake, for our community and for the world. We must not exploit, we must give generously to share our affluence with the marginalized, the abandoned in our society and all those who suffer immensely from poverty and persecution in the rest of the world.

Posted: October 11, 2015

Shiu Lan

Shiu Lan is your Catholic neighbour with a simple faith and likes praying the Rosary. With a B.Sc from the University of Hong Kong, she worked in Information Technology and Project Management before working with joy at home.

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