Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dishonest Wealth vs. True Wealth

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

When the Lord spoke of “dishonest wealth”, many of us might immediately think of material things that were acquired dishonestly – something very similar to ill gotten wealth obtained through the misuse of public funds. “Dishonest wealth” may be taken to mean misappropriated funds – funds that were supposed to help the poor but ended up into the pockets of the rich. However, “dishonest wealth” cannot be limited only to wealth obtained at the expense of the poor.

Christ is the only true treasure
Notice that the Lord speaks of “dishonest wealth” as referring to all kinds of material goods, whether they be obtained honestly or dishonestly. All material wealth is dishonest because such deceive us into some false sense of security. We have always been taught that the possession of material wealth gives us security in life. Thus, the more we accumulate, the more secured our lives are. The more we possess, the greater our capability to address our material needs like food, clothes, shelter, medicine, education, and the like. The more possessions we have the more secure our future becomes. This is the illusion that material things give us.

Such illusion ends at the moment of death. At that moment, we realize that money cannot buy us a second more of life on earth. We then will realize that money cannot be taken beyond the grave. There is no way to transfer account from this world to the other world. In other words, there is a limit to the power of money. It perishes together with this material world. And yet, the Lord says: “If you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth?” In speaking of “true wealth” the Lord is referring to the treasures of the Kingdom of heaven where rust does not corrode, moth cannot destroy and thieves cannot steal. The test for trustworthiness with regards the true and lasting treasures of heaven is the way we exercise our stewardship of the dishonest wealth of earth. The test for our loyalty and worship of God is the way we deal with mammon. Do we subjugate mammon and use material wealth to promote the work of God or do we simply accumulate material wealth and end up being used by mammon? Do we love money and use people or do we love people and use money? I think that the right thing to do is to love people and use money. We use money to help people. We do not use people to accumulate money. The Prophet Amos has a very stern warning to those who enrich themselves at the expense of the poor: “You who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land…The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Never will I forget a thing they have done.”

And so, let us not be overcome by greed. Rather, let our dealings with the goods of the earth be governed by charity. Remember that we are only stewards and not owners. The earth and everything in it belongs to God. Whatever we have does not belong to us…it belongs to God. “If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours?” Remember that the Lord intends to give us the inheritance of heaven, only if we be faithful stewards of the things of the earth. There can be no double loyalties. You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and mammon.

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

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