19 August 2008 Tuesday of the 20th Week in Ordinary Time
Matthew 19, 23-30
Jesus tells us that a rich person will find it hard to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Riches pose spiritual dangers because crime is sometimes involved in gaining them. And once possessed, riches can distract one from God, cut us off from others, and lead to exploitation and oppression.
Riches encourage a false independence. If we are well-supplied with worldly goods, we may think that we can well deal with any situation in our lives without the need for God. There is a modern proverb that says that everything has a price. We think that we can buy everything we want. We believe that in a very difficult and challenging situation, especially when the situation threatens our status or reputation, we can buy ourselves out of it. We can pay people, the way we buy their votes or pay to speed up government service. We can think that we can even spend money for happiness and disburse to quell our sorrow. At the peak of it all, we think that we can well do without God and is quite able to handle life by ourselves. When we are young, when we feel that we have all the talents and energy in the world, we feel so adequate.
But there comes a time when we discover that this is an illusion. There are things that money cannot buy, nor can save us. Often we feel this at a certain age, when our energy starts to diminish and our bodies cannot sustain the same amount of work. The experience of terminal illness or a sudden accident or tragedy in the family, or death points to this very illusion.
Riches can, however, be used to do much good. This is the reason why the call of Christians is to be poor, to live simply. So that in our richness, we can give more.