Wisdom and Faith
Today’s first reading begins with a wish familiar to many of us: pray to receive cautious guidance, plead and receive wisdom. How many times have we begun a prayer pleading with God to solve a problem or provide an answer? It seems in the reading from Wisdom that all of our prayers are answered and we can gladly sing out the psalm: Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
In this same spirit, a man asks Jesus in today’s Gospel how to enter into eternal life. Jesus gives some advice that seems hard after the carefree spirit of prayer in the book of Wisdom. The man reassures Jesus that he has learned the ten commandments since he was a child. Jesus implores the man that he must make the ultimate commitment, beyond asking for prayers or following a list of rules told to Moses. Instead, the man must be willing to give up everything he has and follow Jesus. The man ends up walking away, unwilling to give up his many possessions to follow Jesus.
As a child, I remember hearing the next line of hyperbole and not understanding the meaning: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. Just how big were the needles of the early church? However, I can now appreciate the context.
Jesus is approached by people from all walks of life in the Gospels. However, he is rarely genuinely approached by those in power or those with means. People in a position of power or wealth normally approach Jesus to discredit Him or prove that He is wrong. These wealthy people have no desire to follow the teachings of God - they believe that their wealth or position in life will offer the eternal reward Jesus promises. The followers of Jesus were often looked down upon by others in the ancient world. They were poor. They were not dressed in fine clothes. They didn’t belong in a position of power.
Yet these poorer people had trust and faith. They trusted Jesus to preach the truth. They trusted that He was the son of God on earth. They trusted that He had the words of eternal life. While “all things are possible for God”, we must have the trust and faith to fully commit to the words of Jesus. Only then can we fully receive the wisdom and joy of eternal life.