[quote="sainthumbert, post:1, topic:301820"]
The Gospel reading today from Mark 10:
20*“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21*Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22*At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23*Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
24*The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is[e] to enter the kingdom of God! 25*It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26*The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27*Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
We know that certain wealthy individuals have been declared saints. This does not invalidate a literal reading of Jesus' words. Jesus said it is very hard for the rich to enter heaven, not impossible. A priest told me that the eye of a needle was the hole in a town gate where a camel could be pushed through at night when the gates were closed. It seems to me that a literal interpretation is appropriate here. My recollection from reading Saint Augustine's sermons was that he felt that the rich, simply by being rich, were at a disadvantage to the poor in the pursuit of heaven (though my recollections could be inaccurate). Does anyone know of a good interpretation of this passage from a Church father?
Of course Jesus is being literal because the disciples assume the man is blessed because he is...
A. A ruler of the Jews
Then as now material and social success was equated with blessedness. An assumption btw not necessarily out of place but certainly called into question by Jesus.
We know the Lord is being literal because the response of the disciples is, "Who then can be saved!" Seeing his depart the disciple despair having presumed his blessedness based upon his standing in society. The same error was made by Samuel with King Saul and in the anointing of King David.
It is easy for us to look on the outside and circumstances of men and assume they are righteous (this is the error of Plato and Aristotle) but Christ tells us the only sure means of blessedness is being in Him by baptism, penitence and the Table. This assuredness is based solely of Christ's work on our behalf and stands apart from us. Therefore a man who humbly depends upon Christ may be saved no matter if he is Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, scholar or commoner. St Paul makes this very clear.