Please pardon me for setting aside the task of preparing a homily today. In its place I will make three unrelated remarks prompted by Our Lord’s interchange with the disciples.
First, after Our Lord said that the rich have difficulty entering the kingdom, the disciples then asked. “Who then can be saved?” Their question betrayed their understanding that the rich are dearer to God than the poor. That is a long way from the example of Francis of Assisi whom God rewarded for his love of poverty.
Jesus said it was easier for a camel to pass through a needles eye than for a rich man to enter heaven. Two centuries ago Fundmentalist Christians who took everything in the Bible literally published a book that said one of Jerusalem’s gates was known as The Needle’s Eye. Unfortunately for them, no such gate exists. We must see that Jesus used hyperbole, as when he told us to pluck out an eye that leads to sin.
The third thing I’d like to say about the rich young man is that there was a large painting of himon the stairway’s landing in our seminary. Eight times a day, over six years we rattled past that painting, getting the message that we should not be seeking wealth.