YOU CANNOT SERVE BOTH GOD AND WEALTH
November 5th 2010, Saturday 31st week, Ordinary time, Year II
1st reading Philippians 4:10 – 19, Responsorial Psalm 111, Gospel Luke 16: 9 -15
We so often water down the teaching of Jesus. We so often seek to explain why Jesus did NOT really mean what he was saying. I myself am certainly guilty of this. Now, it is true that Jesus does sometimes use hyperbole, that is to say an exaggeration in order to make a point. It is also true that Jesus sometimes uses images and parables which are not meant to be taken literally. However, so often we use such truths as excuses to refuse to face up to the Truth, as an excuse to stop ourselves facing up to what Jesus says, as an excuse to facing up to Jesus Himself.
I think we are often guilty of doing this with the teaching of Jesus in verse 13 of today's Gospel. WE CANNOT SERVE BOTH GOD AND WEALTH1. Riches and wealth are good. Our God is a God of abundance and he wants us to share in the abundance of his creation. However, the problem is that so often when we have possessions we allow them to possess us! So often the more wealth and material possessions that we have the more concerned we are about holding on to it all. That becomes a preoccupation and takes over our heart, our thoughts and our actions. This stops us loving God as we are called to – with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. It also stops us loving our neigbour as ourself. It stops us loving with a generous costly love. We live in luxury, or at least relative luxury. Yet we see people poor and in need and we rationalise why we should not help them out of our abundance and our excess. Even if we did that it would simply be justice and as Christians we are called to go further than mere justice!
As Christians we are called to justice, that is more than basic. But even more than justice we are called to charity. Not charity as it is commonly thought of now. Not a charity mentality that encourages dependency, nor a charity which gives a pittance out of our excess. Rather charity that is the love of God burning in our hearts. Charity that gives joyfully and generously in a costly sacrificial way. Charity which gives of our money and wealth, but also gives our very selves. Charity which helps others realise their dignity, value and worth. Charity which helps others become the people they are meant to be.
As for ourselves and our own needs, let us recognize the dignity of work and our responsibility to work. Let us also ask God in our prayers for what we need, and even for what we do not need but which we want! If we do this, we will sometimes receive in amazing ways. But, whatever we do or do not receive, let us be like St Paul. St Paul, as today's first reading proclaims, knew how to be poor and how to be rich. He was ready for anything: full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty. God does NOT promise that we will always have an abundance of material riches in this world!
Let us also be open to the fact that God may indeed call us to give away much of our wealth. Indeed some of us he may call to give up all of our wealth. Let us not be like the rich young man who was unwilling to give away his wealth to the poor so he could follow Jesus. Whatever wealth and money we may have let us always use it to help others. Let wealth and money be what we use under God, under the Lordship of Christ. Let not wealth be our master which we slavishly serve. Let us trust, as Jesus says, that our heavenly Father knows what we need and seek first the Kingdom of God. Let us not be a slave, or even a servant of money. Because WE CANNOT SERVE BOTH GOD AND WEALTH.
1Some translations say money, some translations say riches, some translations say mammon -the original Greek word is from the aramaic word mamon or mamona which means "riches", "property", "material possessions", "wealth", "money", "profit". Some bible scholars believe that the word derives from that to which we entrust ourselves or in which we put our faith.
Fr. Paul Uwemedimo