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How to Get Into the Kingdom of God

August 18, 2020   Tuesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time (Lectionary: 420)

Reading 1   EZ 28:1-10

The word of the LORD came to me: Son of man,
say to the prince of Tyre: 
Thus says the Lord GOD:

Because you are haughty of heart,
you say, “A god am I!
I occupy a godly throne
in the heart of the sea!”—
And yet you are a man, and not a god,
however you may think yourself like a god.
Oh yes, you are wiser than Daniel,
there is no secret that is beyond you.
By your wisdom and your intelligence
you have made riches for yourself;
You have put gold and silver
into your treasuries.
By your great wisdom applied to your trading
you have heaped up your riches;
your heart has grown haughty from your riches–
therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
Because you have thought yourself
to have the mind of a god,
Therefore I will bring against you
foreigners, the most barbarous of nations.
They shall draw their swords
against your beauteous wisdom,
they shall run them through your splendid apparel.
They shall thrust you down to the pit, there to die
a bloodied corpse, in the heart of the sea.
Will you then say, “I am a god!”
when you face your murderers?
No, you are man, not a god,
handed over to those who will slay you.
You shall die the death of the uncircumcised
at the hands of foreigners,
for I have spoken, says the Lord GOD.

R. (39c)  It is I who deal death and give life.
“I would have said, ‘I will make an end of them
and blot out their name from men’s memories,’
Had I not feared the insolence of their enemies,
feared that these foes would mistakenly boast.”
R. It is I who deal death and give life.
“‘Our own hand won the victory;
the LORD had nothing to do with it.’”
For they are a people devoid of reason,
having no understanding.
R. It is I who deal death and give life.
“How could one man rout a thousand,
or two men put ten thousand to flight,
Unless it was because their Rock sold them
and the LORD delivered them up?”
R. It is I who deal death and give life.
Close at hand is the day of their disaster,
and their doom is rushing upon them!
Surely, the LORD shall do justice for his people;
on his servants he shall have pity.
R. It is I who deal death and give life.

Alleluia   2 COR 8:9

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich
So that by his poverty you might become rich.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel   MT 19:23-30

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.”

 

 

By Abbey Smith 

What stands out to me about today’s Gospel is that it says the disciples were “greatly astonished” that it is difficult for rich men to enter the Kingdom of God. Their immediate reaction was, “Who then can be saved?” In their hearts, they thought rich men were the ones guaranteed passage into Heaven. 

It strikes me how embedded this idea still seems to be in my own mentality. It can be easy to believe that physical and spiritual riches are proof of God’s love. Certainly, it is more difficult to believe God’s love for people when I see how many are seriously lacking materially.

Yet, here Jesus is astonishing all of us saying, “Absolutely not! Your wealth does not define your worthiness or holiness.”

How often do I try to gather up all the riches I can and say, “Look at me, world! Jesus, see! I am good and worthy of love! This diploma says so. This credit score says so. My big house says so. This bill of perfect health says so. My large number of friends says so.”

 

 

 

Jesus shakes His head, gently chuckles, and says to my heart: “Oh, quite the opposite, My love. earthly kingdoms may base your worth on productivity and wealth, but none of that matters in My Kingdom. No, not for a single second.”

I continued to read and thought: “What? You want me to give up everything?

How will I take care of myself and my loved ones?

You want me to leave my community? How will I know they are okay? That doesn’t seem like the holy thing to do--to walk away from people.”

Again, I hear Jesus respond: “Love, I didn’t say give up on earthly necessities. I said give those needs to Me, and trust that I am always caring for you, even if it doesn’t look or feel like it. I didn’t say leave your community behind. I said leave them to Me. Leave the peaceful mountaintops and tense valleys of all your relationships to Me, and trust that I am always caring for your community, even if it doesn’t look or feel like it.”

 

As His voice speaks to my heart, the message of the Gospel is powerfully clear:

“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.”

He reminds me again: “You never needed to prove yourself to Me. Let go of these notions of worthiness, and let Me redefine what it means to be rich.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Abbey Smith is currently a graduate student pursuing her MSW at Case Western Reserve University. Living just outside Cleveland, Abbey is Ohio’s biggest fan! If she isn’t creating or reading, it’s guaranteed you’ll find her out hiking the Cleveland Metroparks.  Abbey’s spirituality is deeply rooted in nature, and imaginative prayer is her favorite. She is a published poet, lover of tea and tattoos, and is always ready to talk about the intersection of faith and social justice. Find out more about her here.

 

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