This verse, for the longest time, made no sense to me. Who would ever give a thought to putting a camel through the eye of a needle?
Well, in the Bible used in the Eastern Orthodox tradition- the Peshitta- there is shown to be- or perhaps I should say alleged to be- a translation error that suggests perhaps the individuals who wrote the Greek Bible may have been working with at least some earlier text (perhaps portions of what scholars call Q) that was in Aramaic- the language of Jesus. Apparently the words 'camel' and 'rope' are almost indistinguishable, with a fine accent mark being the key difference.
Upon reading this, the saying made much more sense to me. Not only because of the elimination of a seemingly bizarre reference, but also in a more significant sense. If we thin down by reducing our attachment to material goods, to the material world, then we can bring ourselves closer to what God wants for us- entrance into his Kingdom, his Presence, through the eye of the needle. In reading other texts from the Eastern tradition (the Philokalia, for example), this point of moving away from our attachment to the material world- away from having material considerations drive our lives and towards a God-driven life- is given heavy emphasis as not just a theological concept, but as a way of living, as a practice. This thinning down can be difficult, but with our own perseverance and the help of God and our family in God we can do it.
A camel will never pass through the eye of a needle. But for us, as ropes of varying thickness, hope remains.