Could I Pass Through the Eye of a Needle?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples that it 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.”

Why is that? Is God prejudiced against the rich?

It helps me to understand what Jesus is talking about to recall the story 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; it is the things of this world that provide us with (illusory) security that prevent us from passing easily “through the eye of a needle.” I had an image as I prayed of someone trying to force his way through a narrow doorway carrying big suitcases full of treasures.

Every day I pray St. Ignatius’ Suscipe, which ends with the line “Give me only your love and your grace; that is enough for me.” As I sat with today’s Gospel, I prayed, help me remember that Lord; help me remember that all I need is you. That I can let go of everything else.