Easier for a Camel

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Mark 10:25 makes a remarkable observation by Jesus: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (KJV).” This on the surface would seem to indicate an entire class of people excluded from the promise of God.  It is not, however, as simple as that.  Wealth per se does not seem in itself to be the obstacle to salvation.

Look at Barnabas in  Acts 4: “Joseph who was surnamed by the apostles Barnabas (which means, Son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field which belonged to him, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet (vs 36-37).” Here is a man of property, and he is praised.  And why praise?  Because of his attitude of service and giving.

It seems here is the problem of many “rich” of the world – greed.  The living for one’s wealth rather than using the wealth for living (in this life and the next).

We find a clear example in Luke 16:19-31 (RSV):

“There was a rich man [enough said], who was clothed in purple and fine linen [but Luke shows how rich] and who feasted [not just dined]sumptuously every day.  And at his gate [yes, a walled house – not just a door] lay  a poor man named Laz′arus, full of sores,  who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table [the rubbish]; moreover the dogs [not domesticated but scavengers and incidentally the rivals of Laz’arus for those scraps]  came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz′arus in his bosom.  And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Laz′arus [look, his attitude of condescension towards Laz’arus  still hasn’t abated -even in hell] to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Laz′arus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.  And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’  And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him [again, Laz’arus spoken about as if not present, and still as a servant or unworthy] to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’”[My brackets and comments].

It wasn’t that the rich man was rich, but what he did with his wealth.  He lived a life of conspicuous wealth in royal purple and conformable linen, feasting to excess yet with no seeming concern for the poor man dying at his gates.  This attitude of entitlement in life, followed him into death, and it is that arrogant self-centredness that is what made his lot.

Wealth does not damn people. It is their love of that wealth above that of their fellow man, and of God the giver of that wealth that makes that needle so narrow for their camel-sized pride.

First, let’s be aware of who is at our gates today. Then, in humility, seek camel-sized gates for our needle-sized egos – not the other way round.

Padre

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