Sunday readings reflection: Not a cakewalk

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Wisdom 7:7-11
Psalm 90:12-17
Hebrews 4:12-13
Mark 10:17-30

In a scene from the fictional, crowd-funded television series The Chosen, the apostle Matthew questions the harsh tone of Jesus’ words while practicing the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus responds, “I’m not here to be sentimental and soothing. I’m here to start a revolution.” As I read Jesus’ words from today’s Gospel reading, I’m thinking he’s telling me the same thing. Using the stark imagery of a camel and the eye of a needle, Jesus is clearly telling me it’s no cakewalk to get through the gates of heaven.

It is said that the United States is the “richest country in the world,” the importance of which cannot be ignored when reading about the rich man’s exchange with Jesus. Many, most perhaps, would not consider ourselves wealthy. We leave that moniker to the rich and famous. But most of us cannot deny having wealth, having comforts and securities, that others do not. Importantly, that is also the distinction Jesus uses, “how hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God.” If, then, we are among those who benefit from living in the “richest country in the world” (very clearly, very pointedly, not all receive this benefit), we must count ourselves among those who “have wealth.” Sorry, no loopholes. 

(I might venture to say that the closed loopholes also open wide the embarrassment of our riches compared to those within this wealthy nation that live in abject poverty–some in tents, some not knowing what or when they will eat next. As we grab for our creature comforts after a stressful day, there are those among us whose stress is finding food for their children or finding even a little shelter as protection from the rain or snow. But I’ll close this parenthetical rant and write more of that at another time.)

Oh, and the part about not being impossible for God, don’t count on that as a loophole either. Jesus very clearly told the rich man that he had to give up everything to follow him. Shedding all we have, trusting Jesus, which means entrusting the entirety of our life to God the Father, is how we squeeze through that eye of the needle.

There is no shame in being successful, of course. In fact, Jesus’ ministry benefited from those with wealth (yes, on earth, even Jesus sometimes used a few dollars to feed the sheep). Yet, instead of giving up our faith to benefit our material success, we must be sure to consider our wealth as less important than our faith. We need to give glory to God for all we have and praise Him for the gifts He gives us more than we accept praise for our success.

In my heart of hearts, I need to consider prayerfully if I could answer differently than the rich man. I need to consider what I would be willing to give up to follow Jesus. If my answer is that I go to church, pray, and blog about the Sunday readings, great. But it’s not enough for me to fit through the eye of the needle. Real love is always sacrificial. And Jesus’ love is as real as anything in heaven or on earth. 

My Lord Jesus, thank you for allowing me to respond to your questioning of my faith. Give me the grace to answer well, and to be truly willing to offer my possessions, my talents, my treasures, my wealth, to you as a sacrifice of love. Amen

One thought on “Sunday readings reflection: Not a cakewalk

  1. This is so very good. Life is also no piece of cake. I actually remember going to a cake walk, where you paid to join in, walked around a circle, on spots with numbers in them, and if you were on the winning number when the music stopped, you won a cake. Sort of like musical chairs, I guess, only with cake. I appreciate your rant, because this country seems to made a generation who feels they believe hand outs, “I’m here, I’m breathing, it’s due me.” And that is putting us into a whole world of hurt. If only we could all live with real love being sacrificial, people would take pride in wanting to do they best and give the help to those who really need it.

    Liked by 1 person

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