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Bible reflection: ‘Who then can be saved?’

Michele Frankeni  |  15 August 2019

Matthew 19:23-30
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you solemnly, it will be hard for a rich man 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 a rich man 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. ‘For men’ he told them ‘this is impossible; for God everything is possible.’

  Then Peter spoke. ‘What about us?’ he said to him ‘We have left everything and followed you. What are we to have, then?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I tell you solemnly, when all is made new and the Son of Man sits on his throne of glory, you will yourselves 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 be repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life.

‘Many who are first will be last, and the last, first.’

Questions and reflections

This Gospel is for the daily mass on Tuesday, 20 August. Money, who has it and what it’s good for, is the consistent theme from Matthew in this and yesterday’s Gospel readings. In Monday’s Gospel a young man says he keeps all the Commandments and wants to know what else he can do to possess eternal life. Jesus replies: ‘If you wish to be perfect, go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven’. This is a step too far for the man who we learn ‘goes away sad, for he was a man of great wealth’. In today’s Gospel Jesus follows this up by telling his disciples that it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

  • What do you think Jesus is telling his disciples about the accrual of wealth?
  • The term ‘Prosperity Gospel’ refers to a belief by some Christian groups that financial blessing and physical wellbeing are always the will of God, and that faith will deliver security and propsperity.
  • Do you think that Matthew’s accounts of Jesus’ teaching matches with the idea?
  • Can you think of real-life instances where we personally or a society tell others they don’t count because they are not prosperous?
  • What would Jesus say to that?

Daily reflection

‘Who then can be saved?’

The pursuit of wealth and our ‘lifestyle choices’ distract us from hearing God’s call in our lives. We are like overburdened camels. We are the cluttered, the preoccupied, too busy to attend to prayer and silence. Encumbered with hollow values telling us how to behave, what to buy, it seems the narrow entrance to heaven is lost deep in the haystack.

Can we hear the invitation to walk on the way of salvation? Might we, like the disciples, have a place with Christ? Jesus gives us hope. When we can see things in perspective, we come closer to God, acknowledging that the treasures and values of this world are not a true measure of our worth. We thank God who loves us for who we are, not for our possessions or popularity.

God of Wonder, welcome me again so that I may find you at the centre of my being.


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