Ordinary Time Week 20: Tuesday

“Again I say to you, 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.” (Matthew 19:24)

In an ancient work known as the Incomplete Work on Matthew, an anonymous Ancient Christian Writer (ACW) offers the following insight on this verse from today’s Gospel:

“The needle is the Word of God, which is the Son of God himself. The tip of the needle is sharp and subtle: subtle according to his divinity and sharp as to his incarnation. The needle is straight and without curve, that is, without scruple. Through the wound of his Passion the Gentiles now have entered eternal life. Only this needle, the cross, can stitch wounds together. He sewed together once again the tunic of immortality, which had been torn by Adam. It is the needle that sewed the flesh to the spirit. This needle joined together the Jewish people and that of the Gentiles; the apostle says of it, “For he is our peace who has made us both one.” This is the needle that joined the broken friendship of angels and human beings. This is the needle that pierces and passes through but does not wound.” (Incomplete Work on Matthew, «Homily 33»)

Pondering today’s Patristic passage...
Did the image of the needle wow you? The ‘actions’ of the needle are also thought provoking: ‘stitching wounds,’ ‘sewing together humanity and immortality’ and “pierces and passes through but does not wound,” to name only a few. Given the depth of the analogy, one can picture easily a large wound (and perhaps recall the pain!) that demands stitches because no band-aid or gauze can stop the bleeding. In terms of the battle with sin and the reality of salvation, human efforts apart from the Person Jesus are ineffective: grace pulses from our lives leaving us empty and lethargic. The Divine Physician, Who so readily wants to stitch the wounds of sin, needs something from us: room to work. This is why Jesus sounded the caution about riches. Being rich in the biblical world meant not only having much, but being so full, so complete that nothing can be added. The rich who have a hard time living the Kingdom have filled life with self to the point that no one can ‘get in’ — life has become all about me, myself and I punctuated by narcissistic grandiosity and entitlement. Jesus, Who so ardently desires to stitch our bleeding wounds, want us to let go of sin’s clutter and obstacles so that He has an opportunity to sew healing into the fabric of our lives. When we do so, we may even find that the needle does not hurt as much as we imagined.

O God,
Who have prepared for those who love You
good things which no eye can see,
fill our hearts, we pray,
with the warmth of Your love,
so that,
loving You in all things and above all things,
we may attain Your promises,
which surpass every human desire.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen