Rich Towards God
In the gospel today, Jesus reminds us of the responsibility of being or becoming rich. Jesus warns His listeners about the dangerous tendency to constantly desire for more inherent in our increasingly materialistic society.
Jesus reminds us, through the rich man in the gospel story, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!… It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God!” Jesus also assures us “there is no one who has given up house or brother or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for His sake and the gospel who will not receive in the present age a hundredfold of what they give up with persecutions and eternal life in the age to come.”
This parable teaches us that life is not all about the abundance of the things we possess. In ancient Mediterranean society, everything exists in a limited supply that has been already distributed. Anyone who experiences sudden increase in income even unintentionally is thought to be taking what does not belong to him and is considered a thief. This thievery creates a needful person. St. Jerome in his commentary on Jeremiah says: “Every rich person is a thief or an heir of a thief.” The things that one does not use belong to those who need them. Justice requires that everyone gets what he requires for a decent life.
The parable polarizes the passion to accumulate wealth against becoming rich towards God. It passes the verdict on a life dedicated among other things to the pursuit of material wealth. The parable demonstrates the absurdity of a life programmed on the desire to acquire resources one cannot retain or even fully enjoy. The judgment passed by the gospel parable on a life based on wealth is the same as the judgment of the Book of Ecclesiastes on life in general: vanity of vanities.
The philosopher William James expresses this gospel wisdom by declaring: “The best use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts life.” We have to live for the future, that is, for eternal life because we shall spend the rest of our days there.