By Fr Jose LaBoy
Entering the Kingdom
“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.”
We know from the Gospels that Christ spends most of his public ministry preaching about the Kingdom of heaven. God wants to be the King of our hearts. This is impossible if we are attached to things. When Christ says that it will be hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven, he is speaking to every person. Christ is saying that to be attached to material things means not having room for God. It’s not a matter of riches. Just as a mountain climber doesn’t use heavy gear or take a weighty rucksack, in our spiritual climbing of the mountain (which is our intimate relationship with God), we need to be free of anything burdensome.
It Seems Impossible
“Who then can be saved?”
The reaction of the disciples helps us to remember how easy it is for us to be attached to ourselves, to things, to pleasures and to desires. To leave all of these in order to get to heaven may seem impossible for us to do. In fact, it is. No one can overcome these attachments without the help of God’s grace. That is why Christ says, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” God will take us to heaven if we let him. An overloaded boat will sink not because it is incapable of floating, but because the weight is more than it can carry. We can reach God when we empty ourselves and allow his grace fill our hearts.
Having Nothing in Order to Have It All
We can usually give up something in order to receive something better. That is why the apostle Peter, not really sure of what “the prize” of his following Christ is, asks the Master, “What will there be for us?” The reward of our renunciation is to be with Christ, forever sharing in his glory. The awesome thing is that Christ tells us it’s not something we will receive in the future, but something we can already begin to receive here on earth. St. John of the Cross, who had a profound love for Christ, understood very well that “to come to the possession you have not, you must go by a way in which you possess not” ( The Ascent of Mount Carmel , Book 1, Chapter 13).