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December 5, 2012

“Christ and the Rich Young Ruler” by Heinrich Hofmann (1889), Riverside Church, NY (PD-Art, PD-old-100)

And it came to pass in those days, that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered” (Luke 2: 1).

Recently released census figures show that poverty is at its highest level since the 1960s. President Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty” is a faded memory.

Poverty is spreading to include the under-employed middle class. Long-term trends such as globalization, outsourcing, increased automation, and decreased unionization have combined to push median household income lower. These trends are not expected to reverse any time soon.

How different is our time from that in which Christ was born? The gap between rich and poor is widening.

We may not be able to do much about that disparity, but we can revise our priorities. We can reassess how much of our time should be given to those in need. Are you willing to reduce your income, even perhaps your family’s luxury, in the service of others? If not, consider carefully the words of Jesus to the rich young ruler:

“ ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me’ ”(Matt. 19: 21).

If you remember, the young man turned down the offer, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

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One Comment
  1. I’m no expert on quoting scripture, but didn’t Jesus say it’s easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than for a wealthy man to enter heaven because of his inability to part with his possessions? I think it is only when we give up our attachments to tangible things here on Earth and follow Christ completely that we will be able to secure our residency in heaven with him. It’s a very difficult thing to do, severing our attachment to money, people, things we care about. In fact I believe it’s more out of fear and concern than greed. I do believe it’s worth doing because having the personal relationship with Christ and being with him eternally is far more valuable than any relationship or object we could ever own.

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