I must have been 6 or 7 when I first realized that most people are far more interested in making money than in serving God. Sure, we talk a good game about how our faith is the most important part of our lives, but if we added up the hours we spend working, sleeping, and watching TV and set those against the (maybe) hour a week we spend at Mass on Sunday, we’d get a different picture. It would make a fairly damning pie chart. You could make the same comparisons with the other two legs of the stewardship stool—talent and treasure.
This nearly universal fact is bad enough; it gets worse each time we create some elaborate reason why it’s OK to splurge on a little something for ourselves while children die in poverty by the thousands each day. But lately, it seems we’ve decided to go all in in this cosmic poker game. Not only is it OK for us to focus on making money, we tell ourselves and anyone who will listen. It’s a moral imperative. We have a duty to, um, support the economy and, er, create jobs and, uh, set a good example for the useless poor. It’s the American Way!
It’s not God’s way. The Bible contains more than 300 verses about the poor and our duty toward them. And, contrary to what the local purveyor of the prosperity gospel may tell you, Jesus has some harsh words for the wealthy:
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25).
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort” (Luke 6:24).
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19).
“No one can serve two masters, because either he will hate one and love the other, or be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and riches!” (Matthew 6:24)
If you want to follow the example of certain televangelists or congressmen from Louisiana, that’s your perogative. If you want to follow the example of Jesus, here’s his prescription:
“Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Luke 18:22).
I’ll grant you, that’s a pretty tall order. How about if we all just stop pretending that wealth and morality go together and agree that if God is siding with the poor maybe we should, too?
Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net.