Rev. Jessica Palys
Have you ever been told about episode, say a conversation between two people you know, and your first question is - “wait, how did so and so say that? I mean, was it like, HOW HARD WILL IT BE FOR THOSE WHO HAVE WEALTH TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD!?!?
How hard it will be …. for those who have wealth… to enter the kingdom of God?
I can imagine the disciple who wasn’t there asking the others, ‘wait, wait - he said what? When? To whom? But *how* did he say it? … like an ultimatum? or, did he say it with sympathy, cuz he knows how hard it will be for us who have earthly possessions?
We only require the tone of the voice in conversations like these when the subject matter is particularly personally indicting and uncomfortable. Man, how I wish I had a recording of 1st Century Jesus saying this aloud so I could get a sense of how he meant it.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do to soften this verse, and there’s no way to escape it’s point.
The American way, the way of most of the world these days, is accumulation. From a very young age, we are taught to aspire to and glorify wealth; to work hard in school so we can get a good job; to choose a career based on what will pay well; to invest our money early and often, and perhaps on that sexy new stock, so that we may see the Return on Investment that will guarantee our salvation in retirement - the salvation of being comfortable, and secure, and not having to struggle for money. And of course, in our country, money means so much more than simply wealth. Money is the key to mobility - you can’t expect your children to do better than you unless you’ve saved thousands upon thousands for their education. Money is the key to health - not only is your life expectancy predictable by income bracket, but we know in our health care system that there is no guarantee for treatment unless you can pay for it - and if you are able to get treatment, what happens then? Approximately 530,000 Americans declare bankruptcy every year due to medical costs - and many of those have insurance. And Money is the key to security - whether that means physical security with gated homes and security systems and theft insurance, the security of being able to work from home, the security of having the police on your side and having the resources to utilize the legal system, even the security to survive climate change as floods, fire, blizzards and hurricanes increase, water sources diminish, and farming be