The Greatest Miracle of All - an Article
There is an episode in the Bible that brought a lot of unhappiness to many. The paragraph does not seem to be so problematic when you first read it, however with time it showed itself to be burdened with consequences. I would like to discuss it on his page.
The text is related to the young man (or an official - depending on the book) who wanted to become a saint. He satisfied all requirements presented by Jesus, but at the end it was demanded form him to give away his earthly possessions. When faced with such a request he left unhappy. Jesus commented this as follows:
There is a number of points one may make about the above citation. First of all, Jesus demanded poverty from those who wanted to enter 'the kingdom of God'. He did not say that the poor by themselves would qualify. Poverty as such is not suggested to be sanctifying. The form of poverty that Jesus demanded was the poverty by choice. In other words, one was supposed to select to become poor. Give away your wealth and become poor for the sake of the religious involvement. This is what was expected. If you are poor due to the fact that you do not know how to earn more money, your poverty does not make you holy.
One may say that during the history of Christianity there was a lot of saintly rich people. Some of them have even been consecrated as saints in the Catholic Church. Some of the kings that lived long time ago became saints. They would most likely be financially independent. Well, according to the above statement we should be very skeptical to all of those saintly successes. According to Jesus, there is no other way to holiness but the total poverty, and that poverty is to be by choice.
The other point that has been made in the above quotation is that God himself could possibly make a miracle and create a saint who would have substantial financial resources at his or her disposal. Such case would be seen as totally extraordinary, and by itself would be a miracle. Why would it be a miracle? Because, the fact would require some form of direct involvement from the site of God. People would comment: "We can see that God made this holy man/woman to be financially rich, and the riches do not negate the personal holiness of that person." Such situation is a miracle. The direct involvement of God is visible to the others, and the situation is not explainable as natural or expected.
I am tempted to call the above miracle as the greatest of them all. I am also very much convinced that it has never happened so far. This is because such a miracle would change the understanding of the scriptures, and moreover, would redefine the moral direction which we currently utilize within the Christian society. Currently if you would like to be sin free and holy, you have to elect to be financially poor, and dependant on the financial support of the society. There is simply no other way.
To make my point stronger I would like to recall that many people who happen to be financially prosperous, elect to modify the Christian religion they live in, so to resemble Judaism in some convoluted way. This is because the Jewish faith assumes that the financial riches are a sign of God's blessing. In other words, if you happen to be in Judaism and you happen to be rich then all other Jews would see you as saintly, or at least sin free. In Judaism such situation is easily explainable.
It all comes back to Jacob. When he was returning from his stay with Laban, he had four wives, thirteen children, servants, and most importantly a lot of animal stock. In everybody's eyes he was very well off. The riches he possessed were being attributed to the blessings received from God. Moreover, while traveling with his family and goods, an angel of God came to him and changed his name. The newly born Israel had his fortunes blessed and included on his way to heaven. Thus, it is most natural for Judaism to expect the saintly members of her community to be wealthy.
Please observe the graveness of the consequences the Jesus' comments have. His demand was directed straight against the founding arrangements of the Israeli nation. The holy Israelis were to be rich, the holy Christians were to be poor by choice. At that moment he no longer followed the old school of thought in that area, and in fact, because of the importance of this issue to everyone, he placed himself and his followers outside of the conventional Judaism.
The long term effect of such a strong stand was the labeling of the Christians as "the New Israel". There was no way for this new religious belief to be included in the old nation. If you ever search for a point where Jesus and his followers were separated from the traditional Israeli nation, this is the place when it happened. The other differences of opinion, even including the act of crucifixion itself, may be seen as being consequential to this statement. As a result of this proclamation, the saintly Israeli, who followed the laws of the old times, had to leave. Metaphorically speaking, Jesus and his followers boarded a boat then, and left Israel for some distant land.
What is so important in being "poor by choice" so to incline Jesus to make a stand like that? Evidently, he must have been aware of the seriousness of his statement. The point is in the trust and love for God.
When a person decides to reject all of his or her possessions, remove the safety nets provided by substantial bank accounts, and leave for some unknown destination for the sake of the word of God, the person expresses his or hers unconditional trust in the security provided by God. All of this is about trusting God in his caring and defending interventions. When one is reliant on God and then a difficult time comes one looks at the outcome of the crises one is faced with. If the outcome is successful one places even stronger trust in God. After a number of such successfully resolved crisis's one tends to believe in God stronger, and at some stage to entertain the true love toward God. Only when one trusts in someone, and that trust is strengthened by subsequent fulfillment of it, a person may learn to love the object of such trust. In order to be loved one needs to support the trust of others by fulfilling it.
Thus, this is what Jesus wanted to achieve. To strengthen the trust in God of his followers, and to teach them to love God in this manner. It was so important that he decided to break away from his nationalistic belonging.
This is why I suspect, that if at any stage any saintly person is indeed financially rich, then we will all be affected by it. It is going to be the greatest miracle of them all.