The Hardness of the Way

Children, how hard is it!

— St. Mark 10:24

I suspect there is scarcely a young man rich and thoughtful who is not ready to feel our Lord’s treatment of this young man hard. He is apt to ask, “Why should it be difficult for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven?” He is ready to look upon this as an arbitrary decree, arising from some prejudice in the divine mind. Why should the rich fare differently? They do not perceive that the law is they shall fare like other people, whereas they want to fare as rich people. The rich man does not by any necessity belong to the kingdom of Satan, but into that kingdom he is especially welcome, whereas into the kingdom of heaven he will be just as welcome as any other man.

I suspect that many a rich man turns from this story with a resentful feeling. To the man born to riches they seem not merely a natural, but an essential condition of well-being; and the man who has made his money feels it by the labor of his soul, the travail of the day, and the care of the night. Each feels a right to have and to hold. Why should he not “make the best of both worlds?” He would compromise, and serve Mammon a little and God much. He would not put the lower in utter subservience to the higher by casting away the treasure of this world and taking the treasure of heaven instead. He would gain as little as may be of heaven—but something, with the loss of as little as possible of the world. That which he desires of heaven is not its best; that which he would not yield of the world is its most worthless.