Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost – 2020

My dear friends in our Lord: Glory to Jesus Christ!

Sometimes, some of the most necessary foundations are those which we don’t even notice. I mean, how often do we enter the house of a dear friend and immediately go to look at the foundation of the house? It can happen, but it doesn’t happen too often. The same goes for us today. Our world cries out for deliverance, for salvation, for things which are seemingly impossible. If we are to respond, we need to take a look at the foundation of that response.

In today’s Gospel we hear an account which is quite familiar, even to those who otherwise do not hear the scriptures regularly. It is an account of a rich young man coming unto the Lord and asking what he must do to be saved.

Our Lord first answers that the young man – just like all of us – must follow the commandments if he is to enter into eternal life. And the young man responds that he does follow the commandments, and has done so since he was very young. And our Lord does not challenge him on this point. But the rich young man wanted to know if there was still something more that he could do.

Our Lord tells him that if he wishes to be perfect, he should sell all that he has, and give to the poor, and to come and follow Him, to follow our Lord.

And the young man went away sad, for he had great possessions, and was obviously attached to them. Our Lord remarks then – and this is what people remember – our Lord remarks that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

But then comes the lesson that speaks in a special way to us today, in the very uncertain world we we’re living in. We read:

[W]hen they had heard this, the disciples wondered very much, saying: Who then can be saved? And Jesus beholding, said to them: With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible.

This is the lesson from this Gospel that we need to keep before our eyes. “With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible.”

The imagery of a camel attempting to pass through the eye of a needle – that’s often what will grab a person’s attention, what will stick in their mind. That’s what people will think about if they turn their mind to this lesson of our Lord, that camel attempting to fit itself through a needle. And nothing wrong with that! Our Lord used such imagery that we might think on it, and keep it in our mind’s eye.

But we must not then lose sight of the end, the purpose, the fruit of the lesson; and that is: that those things which might be impossible for us are possible for God. “With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible.”

We do well to remember this truth. We do well to remember it especially in our times now when we are surrounded by difficulty of all kinds. This worldwide pandemic. Contentions and bickering over everything under the sun. Individuals, families, nations, an entire world which sorely, sorely need to avail themselves of the healing grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And to the human eye and human mind, does this not seem an impossible task? The conversion of hearts and minds, morals and lives, of those close to us, or of the entire world even? It can seem an impossibility, and frankly it is – for us. For those who every day make a new beginning in the life of grace, it is still impossible.

But not with God.

And that is the lesson. “With God all things are possible.” That is the lesson.

But I started by speaking of foundations, not simply lessons. Remember? What is the foundation of this lesson? What did our Lord do to set the scene as He delivered it?

[T]he disciples wondered very much, saying: Who then can be saved? And Jesus beholding, said to them…

“And Jesus beholding, said to them.” “Jesus beholding.” A remarkable and fairly unusual phrase.

Now, our Lord beheld lots of things in the Gospels, of course. But here, in response to the uncharacteristically insightful question of His disciples, our Lord’s first response, and the preface and foundation of His response, was to behold His disciples. To look at them, to look upon them actively, to have them be seen by Him. “Jesus beholding.”

And this is the foundation that we so often do not think about.

If we are to truly hear, to truly receive, to truly live the fact that with God all things are possible, then we must place ourselves before our Lord Jesus Christ so that He might behold us.

True, God sees all. But that we might be beheld in the sense that we truly need, we must willingly place ourselves actively before Him that we might actively be seen. That He may look upon us, to see within us the same earnestness and desire for salvation as He saw in His disciples as He beheld them.

My friends, here is your salvation. Here is your deliverance. Here is your healing. And here is your foundation: To place yourself before the Lord in earnestness and honesty, so that all that you are, all that you do may be looked upon by Him; that He might behold you.

Do you see impossibilities within your life, within your family, within your world? Do you stand in need of the miracle of God working those things which are impossible for you, but possible for Him? Then make haste to stand before the Lord, just like the disciples. Stand before Him that He may behold you. For it is in beholding, that our Lord even today delivers the same lesson: “With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible.”

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