A camel is a rather unattractive animal with a tendency to spit at you. The thought of such an animal attempting to pass through the eye of a needle is ludicrous at best. Our Lord uses the image as a literary device, a typical form of Hebrew overstatement used for the purpose of making a point. And Our Lord’s point is that some people bring with them so much baggage, which makes it very hard, or indeed impossible for them, to enter the Kingdom of God.
When Our Lord spoke to the man we hear about in the gospel today, he singled out his wealth as his main obstacle. Now, wealth in and of itself isn’t really a problem, but undue attachment to wealth is. Our Lord saw in the heart of this man precisely this attachment, which forced the man to walk away from Jesus, because he couldn’t accept the challenge of detachment even with God’s help.
Wealth may well be a problem for some people, but we shouldn’t limit our view by concentrating solely on the question of how much money a person possesses. The real point is that any obstacle must be given up. If it isn’t wealth, then it may be something else. An attachment interfering with our advance to the Kingdom of God may be a person, it may be an object, or even a way of behaving or an attitude. Each of us must examine our own life to determine if there is such an obstacle in our way to the Kingdom of God. Perhaps this is something we can all do as we prepare to observe Lent.
Every day at Mass we celebrate the greatest detachment possible. We re-live with Our Lord the sacrifice of his life on the Cross. From him, especially in Holy Communion, we can draw the strength we need to rid ourselves of any undue attachment. With God, all things are possible.