Tuesday, 19 August 2008

My Thoughts on the Bible Readings of the day

Today's gospel reading talks about a camel going through the eye of a needle. Some interpret this as Jesus referring to a certain gate in Jerusalem called Needle's Eye. This entry-point was built like the eye of a needle and was so low that a camel could pass only if it entered kneeling and unencumbered with baggage. The lesson would then be that an eternal inheritance awaits those who unburden themselves of sin, and in particular, the things of this world. Also, kneeling represents submission and humility, which are required to enter into heaven. Unfortunately (though this interpretation is beautiful) there is no such gate in Jesus' time, so this interpretation is implausible to say the very least.

Another possible interpretation is that Jesus used the physical impossibility of a camel passing through a needle to hyperbolically express the difficulty of entering Heaven. This one is especially possible when you consider the fact that Judaism has reference in its Babylonian Talmud to "the eye of a needle":

They do not show a man a palm tree of gold, nor an elephant going through the eye of a needle.

Imagine the disciples' horror at hearing that it is impossible for a rich man to enter Heaven! You see, the Jews of Jesus' time see rich people as especially blessed (and thus righteous) in God's eyes. Thus they should have it easier when it comes to entering Heaven. Jesus overturned that idea: to enter Heaven one must allow God to make it possible for him/her. Wealth and holiness had nothing to do with it. Only with total submission to the will of God (i.e. living life according to His laws and His plans for us) to the point of leaving all other concerns behind (yes, even loved ones and pursuit of happiness) can God help us to enter Heaven. And God can do it! For Him nothing is impossible.

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