Lenten Devotional // Day 25

Wednesday, March 30
THE LAST WILL BE FIRST by Peggy Sullivan

Matthew 19:16-30
A man approached him and said, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to have eternal life?”
Jesus said, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There’s only one who is good. If you want to enter eternal life, keep the commandments.”
The man said, “Which ones?”
Then Jesus said, “Don’t commit murder. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. Don’t give false testimony. Honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
The young man replied, “I’ve kept all these. What am I still missing?”
Jesus said, “If you want to be complete, go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come follow me.”
But when the young man heard this, he went away saddened, because he had many possessions.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I assure you that it will be very hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, it’s easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom.”
When his disciples heard this, they were stunned. “Then who can be saved?” they asked.
Jesus looked at them carefully and said, “It’s impossible for human beings. But all things are possible for God.”
Then Peter replied, “Look, we’ve left everything and followed you. What will we have?”
Jesus said to them, “I assure you who have followed me that, when everything is made new, when the Human One sits on his magnificent throne, you also will sit on twelve thrones overseeing the twelve tribes of Israel. And all who have left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children, or farms because of my name will receive one hundred times more and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last. And many who are last will be first.

Reflection 

When I was a single parent and only working part-time, I kept a tight grip on my money. I knew where every dollar went. One of the places my money did not go was to church. Even though I attended every Sunday, each time the offering plate was passed to me, I passed it on. I just knew that if I gave my money away, I’d run out by the end of the month.

One Sunday I was thinking about my parents and how I witnessed them giving each week to their church. I decided I wanted to start giving to my church. It was scary but it felt right. I told myself I could do this because my church was already blessing my son and me in many ways.

Sure enough, I never missed that offering and I never ran out of money! I felt free from the burden of the “what if I run out” way of thinking. I have learned over the years that giving money, possessions, time, and energy to others brings me joy and blessings that I’d never experience otherwise.

I’ve grown to understand that money for expenses, pleasure and prestige are not necessarily bad in themselves. We need some of each to survive. It’s when one makes them the focus of most things in life that faith is at risk. This focus can leave no time to pray or even believe in the power and the grace that God offers.

My practical understanding of verse 24 is that camels loaded down with goods could not fit through the gate to enter Jerusalem, thus the name, eye of the needle. The rider would have to dismount and unload the animal. Once it was free of its burden it could be led through the gate and the load carried in separately.

We are like the camel. When we unburden our worldly goods to the mutual benefit of others we too can pass through the eye of the needle.

Question for Contemplation
What does your relationship with money and possessions look like?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, we understand the appeal of relying on material wealth to give us status and security. Help us to release believing that our stuff is what creates happiness so that we can live more simply and give more generously. Amen

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