Tuesday, August 20, 2013
God our Father,
may we love you in all things and above all things
and reach the joy you have prepared for us
beyond all our imagining.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 19,23-30
Jesus said to his disciples, 'In truth I tell you, it is hard for someone rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for someone rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven.'
When the disciples heard this they were astonished. 'Who can be saved, then?' they said. Jesus gazed at them. 'By human resources', he told them, 'this is impossible; for God everything is possible.'
Then Peter answered and said, 'Look, we have left everything and followed you. What are we to have, then?'
Jesus said to them, 'In truth I tell you, when everything is made new again and the Son of man is seated on his throne of glory, you yourselves will sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times as much, and also inherit eternal life.
'Many who are first will be last, and the last, first.'
• The Gospel today is the immediate continuation of yesterday’s Gospel. It gives the commentary of Jesus regarding the negative reaction of the young rich man.
• Matthew 19, 23-24: The camel and the eye of the needle. After the young man left, Jesus comments his decision and says: “In truth I tell you, it is hard for someone rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for someone rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven”. Two observations concerning this affirmation of Jesus: a) the proverb of the camel and of the eye of the needle was used to say that something was impossible and unthinkable, humanly speaking. b) The expression “that someone rich enters the kingdom of Heaven”, is a question, in the first place, not of entrance into Heaven after death, but of entering into the community around Jesus. And even now this is true. It is very difficult for the rich to enter and to feel at home in the communities which try to live the Gospel according to the demands of Jesus and which try to be open to the poor, the migrants and to those excluded by society.
• Matthew 19, 25-26: The fear of the disciples. The young man had observed the commandments, but without understanding the reason for the observance. Something similar was happening with the disciples. When Jesus called them, they did exactly the same thing which Jesus had asked the young man: they left everything and followed Jesus (Mt 4, 20.22). But they were astonished at this affirmation of Jesus concerning the impossibility for someone rich to enter the Kingdom of God. This was a sign that they had not understood well the response which Jesus had given to the young rich man: “Go, sell all you possess, give it to the poor and then come and follow me!” Because if they had understood, they would not have remained so surprised by the requests of Jesus. When wealth or the desire for riches occupies the heart and the look, the person does not succeed to understand the sense of life and of the Gospel. God alone can help! “This is impossible for man, but for God all is possible!” "
• Matthew 19, 27: The question of Peter. The background of the misunderstanding of the disciples appears in the question asked by Peter: “Look, we have left everything and have followed you. What are we to have then?” In spite of the beautiful generosity of abandoning everything, they still have the old mentality. They have abandoned everything in order to get something in exchange. They still had not understood well the sense of service and of gratuity.
• Matthew 19, 28-30: The response of Jesus. "In truth I tell you, when everything is made new again and the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory you yourselves will sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times as much and also inherit eternal life. Many, who are first, will be last, and the last, first”. In this response, Jesus describes the new world, the foundation of which had been placed by his work and that of the disciples. Jesus stresses three important points: (a) The disciples will sit on twelve thrones next to Jesus to judge the twelve tribes of Israel (cfr. Rev 4, 4). (b) In exchange they will receive many things which they had abandoned: houses, brothers, sisters, mother, children land and will inherit eternal life. (c) The future world will be the reverse of the present world. There, the last ones will be the first ones and the first ones will be the last ones. The community around Jesus is the seed and the manifestation of this new world. Up until now the small community of the poor continues to be the seed and manifestation of the Kingdom.
• Every time that in the history of the people of the Bible a new movement arises to renew the Covenant, it begins by re-establishing the rights of the poor, of the excluded. Without that, the Covenant will not be reconstructed. This is the sense and the reason for the insertion and the mission of the community of Jesus, in the midst of the poor. It draws from the roots and it inaugurates the New Covenant.
• To abandon houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children fields, for the sake of Jesus: how does this take place in your life? What have you already received in exchange?
• Today, the majority of poor countries is not of a Christian religion, while the majority of the rich countries are. How can the saying be applied today that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle?
5) Concluding Prayer
Even were I to walk in a ravine as dark as death
I should fear no danger,
for you Lord, are at my side.
Your staff and your crook are there to soothe me. (Ps 23,4)