This week’s Gospel story is “the eye of the needle story” in which a man asks Jesus what he needs to do to inherit eternal life. In addition to keeping the commandments, Jesus challenges him to go and sell everything he has and give his riches to the poor. “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.” This is a daunting task indeed, but one whose clarity is hard to dismiss or ignore. Look closely at the whole story. As I strive for simplicity in my own life, I am comforted to see that Jesus first loved the man before speaking to him, and that we are reminded at the end that all things are possible for God. If I remember Jesus’ love and God’s possibility, I am heartened to strive for simplicity on a daily basis.
I prayed, and prudence was given me;
I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.
I preferred her to scepter and throne,
and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her,
nor did I liken any priceless gem to her;
because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand,
and before her, silver is to be accounted mire.
Beyond health and comeliness I loved her,
and I chose to have her rather than the light,
because the splendor of her never yields to sleep.
Yet all good things together came to me in her company,
and countless riches at her hands.
I would like to put this Gospel story in conversation with one of the readings for this Sunday, October 14. Here the author gives up riches to seek wisdom. He pleads for wisdom and prioritizes it above riches and even light. Wisdom here is personified in the female form. In the Bible, Wisdom is thought to be God’s creative agent. It is often used synonymously with the Spirit, that she is the goodness of God reflected in the world. So the author (thought possibly to be King Solomon), is seeking God’s goodness, the Spirit, God’s creative energy in the world. This is more precious than gold.
Reading the two side by side, maybe it is easier to imagine seeking wisdom above riches instead of focusing on getting rid of every material possession we have. How is the pursuit of wisdom inherently different than the pursuit of wealth? Christians can have a tendency to like to decide who will inherit eternal life. We point fingers and decide for ourselves who is right and who is wrong. These two passages, the Gospel and the verses from Wisdom, remind us that it is God alone who is good. Our quest should not be for right and wrong, but for wisdom.
Currently, which of the Commandments are you struggling the most to honor and uphold?
What actions might we take to in our lives if we were to take this challenge from Jesus to sell everything and give your riches to the poor seriously?
Talk about someone in your life who you consider wise. How does she or he present wisdom? If you are seeking wisdom, where would you look? Where would you listen?
Do you agree with the author of the passage, that wisdom should be chosen even over light?
The passage proclaims that good things come with wisdom. What good things do you seen coming with wisdom?
How is seeking wisdom different than seeking knowledge? Than seeking truth?
Photo courtesy of las – initially via Creative Commons License