20th Week, Tuesday, August 18

Ezekiel 28:1-10 / Matthew 19:23-30

It is quite surprising and amazing how we easily accept society's way of segregating us into classes. And we also subconsciously divide ourselves against each other.
For example, the one driving a bigger car would expect the one driving a smaller car to give way. The ones who have more money will get better and faster treatment. The 1st class passengers get to leave the plane first, just like the 1st class passengers were the first to leave the sinking Titanic. Yes, all of us are equal, but some have made themselves like gods. Such was the case of the king of Tyre in the 1st reading.

For us, it can be because of the University certificates we hold, the job position or the family prestige, etc.  Such will also be our case if we don't watch our pride, because pride comes before the fall (Proverbs 16:18), just like the impending tragedy that was to befall the king of Tyre.
It is said that the higher you climb, the harder you will fall. But that is if you are not careful. Anyone who climbed up a high ladder would know that. But somehow, this reality does not seem to be obvious as one rises up in power and gain fame and might.

And if we think that we can feel more secure by having more material possessions, then we will surely fall because we will trip over the stuff that we are dragging along. This was what happened to the ruler of Tyre in the 1st reading. As he gained great wealth and fame, he became swollen with pride and his heart grew arrogant. He even began to think that he was a god, or considered himself the equal of God.
And because of that, disaster and tragedy was awaiting the ruler of Tyre. But this was not just the case of the ruler of Tyre. Many kings and rulers in the past had thought bigger of themselves and swelled with pride and arrogance. But the higher up they went in wealth and power, in pride and arrogance, the harder they fell.

In the gospel, Jesus said that it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, and it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. In any case, if wealth and riches are not used to help those in need, then it would be like lugging them up the ladder and eventually they will be the cause of a hard and heavy fall.
Let us remember that Jesus had taught us that our lives are not made secure by what we own, even when we have more than enough.

In order to follow Jesus and climb up the ladder into eternal life, it would be wiser to leave our excess wealth and riches at the foot of the ladder. That will also help to secure the ladder.
We like to think that with a lot of material possessions, we can be first. But as Jesus said in the gospel, those who are first will be last. May Jesus always be the first in our lives so that we will know that we are all equal in His eyes.
Let us pray: Lord our God,
we hold you to your promise
to those who have left everything
for the sake of your kingdom
and who are willing to follow your Son
wherever he leads them.
Let them be men and women
poor in the things that count on this earth
but rich with your love and your grace
and with a wealth of friends
to whom they can bring
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. God bless.

First Reading 
This passage is heavy with irony as Ezekiel describes the coming destruction of the King of Tyre. He had been a major commercial and minor military success. He joined an anti- Babylonian alliance and was now about to face an enraged 
Babylon. Within this little melodrama of failed political strategies, Ezekiel sees a deeper cause for this king's coming destruction. His reliance on the wealth and assets he had accumulated, together with the assumption that his success was due to his own charm and savvy, were the Achilles' heel of his life. Frequently, a sudden disaster reminds us of the fact that we are creatures—fragile, limited, human beings who, despite our marvelous superiority over the rest of creation, remain in the power of events and forces beyond our control. The King of Tyre's vice was not his material success. It was his deification of that success as a comprehensive definition of everything he was. 
Gospel Reading 
The disciples were overwhelmed by Jesus' statement that a camel can sail through a needle's eye with greater ease than the wealthy can enter heaven. Their reaction was based on the Old Testament assumption that wealth and prosperity were indicators of God's favor. If prosperous people, so evidently blessed by God, cannot be saved, then the poor of the land are almost certainly damned. Jesus assures them that with God's help anyone can be saved. Following the Lord is a serious affair that involves a great deal more than keeping the Commandments. A person can become so wrapped in career, financial success, his or her own intellectual virtuosity or charm that 
He would have had to abandon the management of his affairs; for it was this forced stagnation in one situation that caused his sadness. Joy is to be found only in being adventuresome, in a future that brings renewal. Joy is not something that is possessed; it is received as a grace that comes with dawn each morning. Then, too, one must have a heart that is sufficiently ready to taste this happiness, which is as fragile as the morning dew.

Jesus is not opposed to wealth, as is claimed by attackers who are burdened by regret at not being richer. There is no element of resentment in Christ's words. He simply states a fact, and that makes the words even more terrible. He simply observes the inability of the rich to enter into the world of a faith that is lived, the world of hope and joy. The Kingdom of heaven is not a reward given to graduates in the school of meritorious deeds; it is simply the place of joy, but the joy is the joy of the Beatitudes. Try to make this understood by a rich man who is entangled in the management of his possessions! Better, instead, to pray that he may not be eternally sad!

But when Jesus--—and we—-speak in this manner, we are rowing against the current. "Who can be saved, then?" the disciples ask. There are many ways of understanding "salvation." There is the world's way, which identifies salvation with power and affluence. There is the way of a particular biblical tradition, which regarded wealth as a sign of God's blessing. After all, do not people still say of the poor: "Poor but honest"?

Jesus speaks against the current view. He does not say that the poor are automatically saved simply by being poor; he simply observes that faith blossoms more easily amid the detachment of poverty than the worry of riches. But, lest anyone seek to evade the point by a subterfuge, he explains his meaning: "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." After that, a person may water down the Gospel and construct arguments and introduce moderation. He may, but let hi not then claim that he is still talking about the Gospel! For, when all is said and done, the great danger for a rich man is to imagine that possessions might prove useful for winning a place in the Kingdom. The rich at least knew the real usefulness of their possessions, there might be some meeting of minds. But do you know of any wealthy man who, once he became aware of this, remained wealthy?