Help in time of need. We all need help in various times of need in our lives.
The rich young man needed to know what else he had to do to follow Jesus. When Jesus told him to sell all he had and give it to the poor, the young man walked away.
In this political season, we hear a lot about the 1 percent, the 47 percent and the 99 percent. It seems to be pretty easy to figure out who the rich ones are…or is it? On the surface, the ones with the money are the rich ones. Now, if it was just about having wealth the answer would be easy.
“Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 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.”
Scary thought if you’re one of the “rich” ones, but no fear, I’ve heard research is going on right now and they’re trying to breed tiny, little camels and make build really giant needles. Problem solved!
Again I ask if being rich is just about having great wealth. A few years ago, my son and I were able to do some work in the slums in Juarez. I’ve considered myself to be middle class most of my adult life. There in Juarez, we learned about how rich we really were. We had a home with indoor plumbing, heating and air conditioning. We were a family of four with three cars, cell phones, a computer with internet access, cable TV, we were rich!!!!
Our host family had a 2 bedroom house and my son and I stayed in the 2nd bedroom while the 3 boys slept in their parent’s room. The mother worked in a concrete block factory and was allowed to bring home a few blocks a week for free. When they had enough blocks, they would add another interior wall to create a new room. Some of the outside walls were made of 2x4’s with cardboard for insulation and anything they could find for outside sheathing; sheet metal, wood pallets, even a bed spring, until they got enough blocks to build those walls. It was quite a fire trap. The house was heated with a wood burning stove made from an old oil barrel. This was in January of that year, the coldest part of the winter. The father was a plumber so they had indoor plumbing, cold water only. In the morning I took the coldest…and fastest shower I had ever taken in my life.
We ate beans, rice, chicken and tortillas. And their hospitality? I was treated better than in any hotel I had ever stayed in.
Here’s the funny thing, in their neighborhood, they were the rich ones!!!
Pretty much almost everyone in the United States, including our poor, are rich compared to most of the world. So does that mean in comparison to the rest of the world, we all need to look for those tiny camels and giant needles?
I do think that Jesus was speaking of worldly goods when he spoke of the young man, but also of the way in which we put things in front of God.
What riches in our life interfere with our relationship with Jesus? It can be money, or possessions, even people that can get in the way. When anything comes between us and the Lord, it becomes our riches.
Our own egos can be the worst of the riches we have. Thinking that we don’t need Jesus to take care of a situation, or making excuses for not making time to pray, for scripture time, for quiet time with God, these are all ways when our “personal richness” makes it harder for us to get to heaven. And if left to our own richness, we can’t make it to heaven.
“Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”
For God, all things are possible. When we understand that all things are possible, we learn to lean on the Lord, to let go of those things that get in the way of that relationship. Only then can we “approach the throne of grace with boldness.” The boldness comes from knowing that our God makes all things possible, no matter how much we may have let our riches get in the way.
“So that we may receive mercy,” the mercy that comes from a loving and forgiving God. The mercy that God offers continually, we just have to accept that offer of mercy every day.
“And find grace to help in time of need.” We will always find grace especially in our time of need if we just open our hearts to God’s grace.
God is always showering us with mercy and grace; it’s just that much of the time we don’t let go of our riches long enough to see it happening. Our times of need seem to be those times when we turn our back on our Lord. I’ve seen many people go through tremendous hardships, health issues, family issues, financial problems and more. For some, those burdens seem to cover them and permeate their lives, causing frustration and a feeling that God has abandoned them.
For some, it seems like there’s nothing bothering them. They have a strength and faith that all can see. Why? Because they are allowing God’s grace and mercy to cover them completely. Their faith helps them to overcome any trial that comes to them by letting go of their riches.
A dear old family friend, Mrs. Aurora Chavez passed away at 2:00 this morning after a long battle with cancer. Her grand-daughter told me that her grandma was praying earlier this week that God would give her family the strength to make it through this tough time. Not to ease her own pain, but to ease the pain of those she loved. I have no doubt that Aurora is in heaven at this very moment looking at each of us and her family and friends, because her riches were stored in heaven.
Let us become like her. If our riches are stored in heaven, then we can accept God’s help in time of need and let God’s grace and mercy be abundant in our lives.
So it’s not just about how much money or stuff we have…
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.