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Monday, July 15, 2013
Today’s Reading | Luke 18:15–30
People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”
A certain ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.’ ” He replied, “I have kept all these since my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” But when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” He replied, “What is impossible for mortals is possible for God.” Then Peter said, “Look, we have left our homes and followed you.” And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” (NRSV)
The gospels teach that the kingdom of God belongs to children, the poor in spirit, the persecuted, and those who respond to the needs of the hungry and thirsty, the naked and sick, the stranger and prisoner. In the Kingdom, the greatest are those who are the least, who humble themselves, who live out God’s commandments. It is a hard place to enter for the rich—who, by the world’s standards, includes most of us Americans.
Jesus recognized how hard it is to let go of our money. The more we have, the more we think we need. We pursue money as the source of our security, the measure of our worth, the means to happiness, the essential bottom line. Doing with less scares us.
I have led numerous retreats on money and faith. When participants were asked how they felt about their financial resources, they expressed a consistent pattern. Regardless of their level of income, those who gave away a higher percentage used words like “blessed,” and “grateful” while those who gave away less felt worried or burdened. Giving money away both follows from and contributes to greater freedom.
Thomas Merton wrote, “We do not detach ourselves from things in order to attach ourselves to God, but rather we become detached from ourselves in order to see and use all things in and for God.”
Source of Life, strengthen me to seek first your kingdom and trust that all the rest I need shall be given to me. Amen.
Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission
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