When Jesus said that it was “Easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24) – He must have been thinking about those who have no concept of the burdens which are placed on people, when they do not get paid. Take Wilbur Ross, who thought that employees in the Federal Work Force could easily get a loan to tide them over the five weeks of working without pay. Without a frame of reference relative to the experience of ordinary people, it is difficult to have empathy or compassion. The assumption a loan was easily available showed how little Ross knew about the economic rules for people who live pay check to pay check.
What Ross said made a lot of sense in the space and world of the wealthy he inhabits. Getting a loan comes easily when one has the vast financial resources of the very wealthy. For the rest of us, loans require collateral we may not have. We need to provide evidence of our income and how long that has been a source of income for us. There are credit checks, and searches for outstanding debt. With the best credit rating, there is still time needed to process a loan. Even then, it will carry interest which will have to be repaid.
Jesus did not say it was impossible for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He only said it was difficult. To understand requires intentionality. One has to do the hard work of learning, growing, encountering and putting oneself in the other’s situation. Jesus lived compassion . . . Compassion for the economically distressed, the poor, sick, hungry, disabled and the immigrant escaping violence. His heart went out to any who were suffering. He felt their grief, sorrow, pain, loneliness and fear as if it were his own.
Followers of Jesus know that if we are to be both true and authentic in our Christian walk, we must be people of compassion. It isn’t really a question of how wealthy we are – but a question of much heart we have.