Many of us who follow Jesus lift his teachings off the pages of scripture and apply then to our own lives. In fact we often want to universalise the words of Jesus as if they applied to all people everywhere for all time. Except for this passage from Matthew! Suddenly the commentaries and expositions agree that this was a word for a particular man at a particular time, and does not apply to anyone else! This is so because this is because this is one of those passages in the Bible that is easy to understand, but difficult to follow!Jesus says: “If you wish to enter into life then keep the rules and let go of your possessions”. And suddenly this becomes difficult – because, like the man who asked Jesus the question, we have many possessions and find it hard to let go of them. In fact we find it so hard that we want to strip this passage of its meaning by spiritualising its meaning into nothingness. Many commentaries and expositions of this passage argue that Jesus does not expect us to give our stuff away. Some commentaries will admit that perhaps some people are called to do this as a sign of their faith in God, but hasten to add that this is not for everyone. Others suggest that Jesus was exposing this man’s failure to be perfect – and then add that giving away possessions is not a sign of perfection.
So what is so hard about hearing Jesus say that we must share our possessions: he certainly said this on more than one occasion. It was Jesus who suggested that if we have two coats we could give one away (Luke 3:11); Jesus reproved those who wanted bigger store rooms to store their possessions (Luke 12:17-21); and Jesus encouraged us to trust God instead of our possessions (Matt 6:25-34). Perhaps this year we might take the teaching of Jesus more literally, and practice generosity towards those who struggle to survive life. We who are blessed are called by Jesus to become a blessing to others.
Prayer: O Lord: soften my heart that I might be less greedy and become more generous. For the sake of those who struggle. Amen.
Second Sunday after Epiphany“Come follow me”
(Scripture reference page 59 A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants)