Ezekiel 28, 1-10
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich
to enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Again I say to you,
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.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said,
“Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said,
“For men this is impossible,
but for God all things are possible.”
Then Peter said to him in reply,
“We have given up everything and followed you.
What will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you
that you who have followed me, in the new age,
when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory,
will yourselves sit on twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or children or lands
for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more,
and will inherit eternal life.
But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
Good News Reflection: How to enter the kingdom of God
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus says, “Only with difficulty can one who is rich enter the kingdom of heaven.” Lest we think we’re exempt from this warning if we’re not wealthy or because, if wealthy, we use church attendance as a guarantee for living in God’s kingdom, God gives us today’s first reading for an examination of conscience.
He says in those verses: “By your wisdom and your intelligence you have made riches for yourself.” Your wisdom, yourintelligence. We can ask ourselves, “What am I rich in (and not necessarily material wealth) by my own doing? What did I achieve in abundance without prayerfully seeking God’s approval and relying on his guidance and help?
Jesus tells us that we must let go of our attachments to the world so that we can enter fully into the kingdom of God, not just when we die, but now, so that we can experience his unconditional love each moment of every earthly day.
We pile so many worldly (unGodly) attachments upon our backs that we’re like camels laden with luggage! None of this baggage can squeeze through the gate into God’s kingdom. If we try to hold onto them, we don’t fit through the gate.
We are rich in “doing things my way.” In the kingdom of God, everything is done his way, which of course is the best way. No “conditional” love can get through, because it’s not truly love. The attitude of, “If you make me happy, I will approve of you and accept you and be nice to you” is a huge load of trash. It’s not love at all. And so is, “If same-sex lovers love each other, then we should believe that God approves of same-sex marriages.”
The garbage that others have thrown at us won’t fit either. Nor will the emotional bandages that we use for covering the wounds they inflicted upon us. Jesus has already taken all of our blows upon himself. If we’re still wounded by them, it’s only because we haven’t surrendered to every method of healing that he knows will heal us.
We can’t include the baggage of self-righteousness or pride. We don’t need it anyway, because Jesus is proud enough of us. We have to drop the baggage of low self-esteem, because Jesus shows us our true worth, and it is far greater than we think it is.
Identifying all of our worldly bags so that we can free ourselves from their weight seems impossible. The disciples asked, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus answered, “For you this is impossible, but if you seek God’s help, it will become very possible.”
It starts with this daily attitude: “Forgive me, Lord, and help me to identify all my bad habits, addictions, unloving ways, and worldly wisdom. With your gentle but persistent help, I will let go of my baggage and live more fully in your kingdom now and become more ready for heaven when I die. Increase my desire to get rid of everything that does not belong to you. Amen!”
I praise You, Lord, because Your immense love takes me Home. I thank You because You have a beautiful place for me there, to be with You and my loved ones for all eternity. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica