“The love of money is the root of all evil.” “Money can’t buy happiness.” We have all sorts of proverbs that aim to keep us at right relationship not just with our financial resources, but really with all the many gifts that we have. Today’s Liturgy of the Word gives us some humble pointers too on this important issue.
St. Paul, in thanking his friends in Philippi for their generous support of his ministry, tells them: “I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need.” His gratitude isn’t so much that their gift to him filled him with plenty, but instead that their gift was a testament to their faith, and their love for the Gospel he preached to them. He was able to use that gift to further his ministry elsewhere, making Christ known to others who longed to hear of him.
Jesus today speaks to the Pharisees, who, as the Gospel today tells us, “loved money.” He tells them that their love of money was not going to lead them to God. Instead, it leads them to dishonest transactions with dishonest people. Just as a servant cannot serve two masters, so they could not expect to serve both God and mammon, the so-called god of material wealth and greed.
We live in times where the love of money has led us to considerable evil. Greed and the desire for instant gratification has led people to be overspent and overextended. Major corporations, greedy for more wealth, playing off the misguided desires of so many people, have defaulted, and others have grown rich at the expense of the poor. Major breaches in retail security have cost millions of dollars due to hacking of financial information. In these days, it may be well for us to hear that we cannot serve both God and mammon. It may be well for us to come to the conclusion that we can live in both abundance and need. And it’s never a bad time to hear that we need to make God our only God, yet again.