Dear Sacred Heart Family
From today’s gospel comes one of Jesus’ most recognized phrases, “You cannot serve both God and mammon (money)” Luke 16:13. Money, as we know it, is simply paper, no different than this bulletin and paper is not evil of itself. If paper is not evil, what is Jesus’ real message? There are two messages, I think. The first is the reminder, we are to build up treasures in heaven not on earth. The second is, Jesus’ condemnation of the “love” of money.
Perhaps the simplest way to look at “love” is to see love as whatever we spend our time on. If I love people, I make time for them. If I spend my time on my favorite hobbies, like sports. reading or shopping, then that is what I love. If I spend it with certain people rather than others, that is who I love. If I spend my life at work, it may be because I love my work or because it brings me some other good that I love, likely money. If I go to Mass, say my daily prayers or help others in service in God’s name, those are ways I love God. If I fill my Sundays with shopping, parties, vacations, or sleep and make no time for God, mammon has won.
Since the love of God does not pay rent or buy groceries and money does, how do we love God more than money, when we need money to live? It is true Jesus said pray without ceasing, so prayer is one way we can love God more. The second is that we do not miss Sunday Mass. God does not demand we spend the whole Sunday at church, He asks us to give us the first hour of our week to Him, not the leftovers. If we only give God from our leftover time, we probably won’t have an hour left for Him.
Most religious figures who comment on this scripture take the time to point out this passage does not condemn the rich (as none of us has the right to judge another) and yet Jesus also says “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich person enter heaven.” How can one reconcile these two teachings? The answer is to love as Jesus loved. Yes, He had money, yes He paid taxes, but He was very clear to spend His time on others, to share God’s Word and to help the hungry, sick, and outcast.
This is one area of Christian life we are to be distinctively different from the world. Do I live like everyone else? Or do I live in a way that lets people know, by my actions and where I spend my time, that God is my center? And if I have put other things in the center of my life, like money, what can I do to change that?
With a heart for Mission,