Suddenly a man came up to Jesus. Keeping a safe two meter social distance he asked, “Teacher what good thing must I do in order to be safe in this time of corona virus?”

“Why come to me with the questions about what to do?” Jesus retorted, “You know what the authorities are saying, do that.”

“What are they saying?” he asked.

“Christ and the Rich Young Ruler” by Heinrich Hofmann. Public domain.

“You know,” Jesus answered, “wash your hands for twenty seconds, cancel all gatherings, keep a safe social distance of two meters. Self isolate if there’s any chance you have been exposed. Do these things and you will live.”

“But I’m doing all of these things,” the man answered. “I have even stored up a great supply of surgical masks and gloves and essentials in my basement, but still I do not feel safe.”

“There is one thing more,” Jesus answered, “you must give away all of those masks and gloves and essentials to the people who actually need them. Even more important you need to let go of the notion that the things that you have are what will keep you safe. It is only by making sure that everyone has what they need that we can all be safe.”

“When the young man heard him say that, he went away very sad. He had a lot of stuff stored in his basement.”

Jesus said to his disciples, “I’m telling you the truth: it’s very hard for a rich person to get into the kingdom of heaven. Let me say it again: it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s Kingdom.”

This paraphrase was inspired by N.T. Wright’s translation of Matthew 19:16-26 in Lent for Everyone Matthew, Year A (Westminster John Knox Press, 2013). A few of the phrases are lifted verbatim.

For commentary on this paraphrase, see the video devotional at the top of this page.