Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Today's readings play off each other in an interesting way, almost as if the Gospel were commenting on the first reading instead of continuing yesterday's story of the rich young man. In the Old Testament reading, Ezekiel sends a vivid warning to the King of seafaring Tyre. His ships have certainly come in. Tyre is prosperous, and the king assumes all the credit for it. He must be a god! No, says the prophet in the name of the real God. Then comes a harsh call to repentance in the form of a prediction of a violent death at the hands of barbarians.

In the Gospel, Jesus sums it up by saying how hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Layering his comment with a thick coat of semitic hyperbole, he adds, "harder than a camel passing through the eye of a needle." (The suggestion that the "needle's eye" was a particularly unappealing city gate is more and more a discarded notion; this expression is just a typical humorous overstatement.)

Peter hears all this and has a question (one which, truth to tell, is probably on most of the disciples' minds): What about me? "We have given up everything to follow you.What will there be for us?"

He must have missed the context: entering the Kingdom of Heaven. What is the "Kingdom" of Heaven if not the presence of the King? And if someone has given up everything to "follow Jesus," what else does he want? I can almost see Jesus rolling his eyes. Peter, the Kingdom of heaven is yours! Enter into the joy of your Lord! Is there any more to be had?

No comments: