BE CAREFUL IN YOUR PURSUIT OF MONEY!
First Reading: Amos 8:4-7; Second Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Gospel: Luke 16:1-13
We are living in a society where almost every task we undertake requires financial resources for its accomplishment. This implies that everyone needs money, right? So, is there anything wrong for a Christian to like money?
As we all know, money is one of the means of exchange or transaction of goods and services. Almost everybody in the world works very hard in order to earn money for their daily living. Of course, money is not evil in itself, because we need money in order to provide the basic human needs (food, clothe & shelter). We also need money to build Churches, spread the gospel, and carry out many works of mercy and charity.
However, it is the inordinate love for money that is bad. That is, when people intentionally sacrifice moral values (honesty, respect, gratitude, integrity, justice, hard work, kindness etc.) on the altar of greed and dishonesty because of money. Actually, too much love for money is what engenders evil and atrocious acts in our society. That is why some of our political, even religious leaders trample on people in order to maintain their positions of honour. As the scripture says, “The love of money is the root of all evil, and there are some who, pursuing it, have wandered away from the faith and so given their souls any number of fatal wounds” (1 Timothy 6:10).
Meanwhile, not that being rich is necessarily bad or that poverty is somehow godly in itself. Acquisition of wealth through hard work and being generous with it is not a problem. But, the problem is how the wealth is being accumulated and used. Unfortunately, the way many people, especially Christians strive to accumulate wealth in an unscrupulous manner is so alarming.
Some people attribute the current global economic meltdown or hardships to bad governance, and for that reason, in order to get quick riches, fame, fortune, etc., they resort to: banditry, kidnapping, prostitution, fraudulence, occultism, killing of kith & kin, exploiting the poor, betrayal of friendship, just to mention a few.
In the first reading, Prophet Amos describes how unwise the rich are in their cruelty towards the poor. He describes the greed of the traders and the rich, the luxury of the wealthy, the corruption of judges, and the exploitative economic system to the detriment of the poor. He says that those who refuse to listen because they feel that they are comfortable will soon be afflicted without any remedy. Hence, through his prophetic utterances, the LORD warns the oppressors of the poor, that: “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds” (Amos 8:7).
In the Gospel, Jesus Christ narrates a parable which shows the ingenuity of a dishonest steward in his dealings with his master’s business. When the steward realizes that he would be sacked by his master due to his dishonesty, he begins by altering the accounts of his master’s debtors in order for them to see him as a good person, and subsequently help him in future when he is unemployed. Hence, Jesus Christ says: “… the sons of this world are wiser in their own generation than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8).
Astonishingly, this shows how clever and astute the worldly or avaricious people behave than the spiritually minded people. So, can such a dishonest, irresponsible person be taken as a model of prudence and wisdom? Of course not! The master only approves the steward’s foresight without approving his behaviour.
Moreover, Jesus Christ uses this parable to teach us the need for foresight, prudence and wisdom in working out our salvation and in building up the Kingdom of God. Of course, as children of light, we can learn something from the steward’s prudence and channel it in a right manner.
Furthermore, Jesus Christ states categorically that: “No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money” (Luke 16:13). Sequel to this, we need to be wise and prudent in our priorities, choices, behaviour, and relationships, so that we can reach our ultimate destiny – eternal life.
Regrettably, many have lost their lives because of their unscrupulous quests for money, and yet they left the money behind for others, which would later create serious crisis in their family. However, if the money was gotten in an upright manner, there would be peace in the family.
Certainly, there is nothing wrong in working hard in order to make money, provided we put them at the service of God and humanity, especially the poor. But when we love or pursue money too much, then we allow ourselves to become slaves to it, and thus endanger our souls. That is the reason why Jesus also tells us: “But seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness, and every other needs would be provided for you” (Matthew 6:33).
In the second reading, St. Paul reminds us that there is one mediator between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all. Sequel to this, true wisdom and prudence lie in seeking and accepting Jesus Christ, in truth and sincerity, as our Saviour, and living in accordance to His teachings. He urges us to always offer prayers for everybody, especially those in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
Finally, money is not evil in itself, because we need money in order to solve basic human needs, support Church projects, spread the gospel, and carry out many charitable works. But, the inordinate love for money is evil, which can lead us to eternal damnation. So, we should not engage in devilish endeavours in order to acquire money that is transient. Besides, any wealth we acquire through illegal means (dishonesty, cheating, lies, pilfering, etc.) has severe repercussions. It is very harmful and detrimental to our spiritual growth (Habakkuk 2:9-14).
Of course, it is said that, money is a good servant, but a bad master. It is a useful commodity, and can purchase everything except joy, happiness and peace. Therefore, in as much as money is good, we ought to be careful the way we pursue it. As children of light, we should make our money through legal means, and always put them at the service of God and humanity, especially the poor, in truth and sincerity.
May the Holy Spirit of God give you the grace to be faithful and wise in your pursuit of this earthly transient money, and use your wealth to touch the lives of people positively especially the poor, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Peace of Christ be with you…
Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.