Easier For a Camel to Pass Through the Eye of a Needle

In today’s Gospel, a man asks Jesus what he must do to secure eternal life. When the man assures Jesus that he observes all of the commandments, Jesus tells him is is “lacking in one thing,” instructing him to sell what he has and give it to the poor. When Jesus’ disciples express astonishment at Jesus’ statement tht it is difficult for those with wealth to enter the Kingdom of God, he tells them that “[i]t is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”

What comes to mind when I hear Jesus’ allusion to a camel passing through the eye of a needle is the story sometimes told of a monkey whose hand gets trapped inside a glass jar. The jar has some food or trinket that the monkey is attracted to. The monkey can easily get his open hand into the jar, but once he closes his fist onto the treasure inside the jar, he is stuck, since he can’t pass his closed fist back through the jar opening. Thus, the monkey is trapped. He could easily free himself by simply letting go of what is inside the jar. But he cannot bring himself to give up the treasure.

I think that is a good image to keep in mind as we sit with today’s Gospel. It reminds us that it is our attachments that keep us trapped, that prevent us from passing easily “through the eye of a needle.” The subject of the attachment will be different for each of us.For the man who asked Jesus the question, it may have been his attachment to his possessions.

What is it for you? What do you hang onto instead of God? Or phrased in the alternative, what do you need to let go of in order to freely go before God?

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