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

by Shiu Lan
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 7:7 - 11

Hebrews 4:12 - 13

Mark 10:17 - 30

“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.