Scholars have attributed the “Eye of the Needle” to a narrow gate in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, which was usually open in the evening after the City’s main gate had been closed. When travellers arrive late with their camels at the gate, this narrow gate helped in the security check. Since camels were heavily loaded with goods, it was necessary at that time of the day (evening or night) for the rider to stoop the camel(s) and have the goods on it removed in order to pass through the gate. Even after removing the goods on the camel, the camel usually struggled with difficulty and pain because of their relatively big size with the hump(s) on their back used for storing body fat.

In today’s Gospel (cf. Mark 10:17-2), Christ uses the analogy of the Camel passing through the “eye of a needle” to describe how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven. According to him: “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God… It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” This statement was made after the rich young man approached him in his quest for salvation: ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Inasmuch as it was revealed that the rich man kept the commandments of God, however, Christ made him know that he lacked one basic thing – sacrifice (the cost of being a disciple): “Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” But we were told that ‘his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.’ The message is clear. Jesus demonstrated that the road to salvation is indeed narrow (cf. Matthew 7:13-14) and it is necessary to make sacrifices by detaching ourselves from material possessions and worldly vices in order to pass through the “narrow gate” just as the camel needed to be detached from its possessions to pass through the “eye of a needle”.

Dear friends in Christ, Salvation is both absolutely free and yet it costs you your very life. You receive it “freely” at no expense to you, but once you receive it, you have just committed everything you are and have to Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, many who claim to be Christians are still loaded with material possessions and worldly vices, yet expecting to be saved. The words of Christ is very clear and there are no two ways about it. As we prepare to enter the season of Lent, we must make efforts to put off our inordinate desires and sins; for the Sage in the First Reading (cf. Ecclesiasticus 17:20-28) gives the assurance that: “To those who repent, God permits return, and He encourages those who were losing hope. Return to the Lord and leave sin behind, plead before his face and lessen your offence.” It is only when we return to God that we can have our sins forgiven and attain salvation, just as today’s Psalmist {Psalm 31(32):1-2,5-7} puts it: “Happy the man whose offence is forgiven, whose sin is remitted. O happy the man to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, in whose spirit is no guile.”


 ©Rev. Fr. Chinaka J. Mbaeri, OSJ


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Chinaka Justin Mbaeri

A staunch Roman Catholic and an Apologist of the Christian faith. More about him here.

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