Prioritize people over possessions
A Reflection for the Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said,
"Who then can be saved?"
Today’s Gospel is one that we are often eager to interpret as narrowly as possible. We are tempted to think: Surely Jesus is talking about those really rich people. Maybe Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have the level of wealth that will prevent them from entering heaven, but mine and the things it buys—the impulse Costco purchases, the Target bargains and the Dollar Tree finds—won’t be an obstacle for me. As long as we can point to someone with more than us, doesn’t that mean that we aren’t the rich in question?
And then we think: Surely the eye of the needle is only a reference to the doorway in the wall of Jerusalem through which it was difficult to pass with both your camel and your possessions. How could Jesus mean a literal needle; wouldn’t that mean it is impossible for a rich person to enter heaven? Jesus gives us the answer in this same passage: Yes.
Through God’s grace we will see the richness of a life well lived, the value of loving and being loved and, eventually, return to Him in eternal life, taking nothing with us and inheriting everything.
Thankfully, he also then offers some hope: “For men this is impossible,” Jesus says. “But for God all things are possible.” So how, then, does God make this possible? I suspect it has something to do with grace. A grace that urges us to know that our value is found in our relationship with Him and not in our relationship with what we own. A grace that urges us to prioritize people over possessions. To let go of and give away those things we don’t need but that others might use. To consider how exactly we are gaining whatever wealth we have. Is it at the expense of others’ rights or dignity? Are we only taking and never giving back? Do we consider God’s creation and the wealth it offers something to care for and nurture? Do we really ask ourselves how much is enough? And do we listen to the answer?
And what about the giving up of the “houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands,” that Jesus asks for in his name? I suspect he is not urging the abandonment of families so much as he is asking us to realize that all people are children of God, not possessions to be owned or controlled. Through God’s grace we will see the richness of a life well lived, the value of loving and being loved and, eventually, return to Him in eternal life, taking nothing with us and inheriting everything.