Wealth, per se, is not bad; its origin is, if it was unjustly acquired or its destination, if it is selfishly employed without bearing in mind the needy, if it closes our heart to the true spiritual values (where there is no need of God).
Gospel text (Mt 19:23-30): Jesus said to his disciples, «Truly I say to you: it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, believe me: it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven». On hearing this the disciples were astonished and said, «Who, then, can be saved?». Jesus looked steadily at them and answered, «For humans it is impossible, but for God all things are possible».
Then Peter spoke up and said, «You see we have given up everything to follow you: what will be our lot?». Jesus answered, «You who have followed me, listen to my words: on the Day of Renewal, when the Son of Man sits on his throne in glory, you, too, will sit on twelve thrones to rule the twelve tribes of Israel. As for those who have left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or property for my Name's sake, they will receive a hundredfold and be given eternal life. Many who are now first will be last, and many who are now last will be first».
Today's readings call us almost irresistibly to look carefully at the relation between faith in God and worldly success. The Prophet Ezekiel holds up the fabulously rich and prosperous Island City of Tyre as an example of an arrogant community for whom wealth has become a god. It is idolatry personified! After reading this prophecy of the utter destruction of those who serve money rather than the living God, it should not surprise us to hear Jesus say that riches are an almost insurmountable obstacle to attaining eternal life. If we have it all here and now, there is nothing left for us hereafter. We become what we seek, what we serve, what we worship. So a bloody and disastrous end to all our futile efforts to make ourselves immune from human frailty and mortality by amassing treasures on this earth is inevitable. Is earthly security and prosperity and good fortune really worth the sacrifice of our true self?
I think my prayer today should be a careful examination of my attitude toward and use of worldly goods. Am I serving God or money? (Or, rather, am I winning the battle to do this?) Am I in pursuit of heavenly treasures or earthly comforts? Am I willing to leave everything behind for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel? Am I willing to be last now in order to be first to enter eternal life? Do I fully trust the promises of God?
In Jesus all things are possible. Grace is stronger than sin. But we need to be much more than half-hearted. God's Kingdom of love is all or nothing. Let us pray with all our hearts that we may be drawn by God's love (the power of the Holy Spirit) to desire and seek "the things that are above," where our lives are hidden in God through Christ Jesus. For, in the clear and strong words of Jesus, "What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of the eternal self?"
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
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