The first reading of today’s Mass has to do with the Hebrews fabricating and worshiping a golden calf in the desert during the years of the exodus. It’s hard for us to relate to something like that; given our society and culture, we probably won’t produce idols or false gods and adore them. But that doesn’t make us superior to those people in the desert. We might not worship money, but we surely go to great pains to get more and more of it, and then we allow it to alienate us from God.
Jesus tells us in the gospel that it is harder for the rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. The truth of that statement of Our Lord was brought home to me some years ago when I was talking to Sister Briege McKenna, an Irish nun who has the gift of healing. There was a time when the Irish people were perhaps the most devout Catholics on earth, and the Catholics of Ireland produced more priests and nuns than many countries much larger than theirs. But that is no longer the case, and I asked her why. “Oh, that’s easy,” she replied; “the answer is money.” The Irish are getting rich, and when you get rich, you tend to forget God. You’re too busy enjoying all the things that money can buy.” That, in turn, reminded me of the wisdom of a businessman I met years ago. He told me that he prayed that he would always have enough money to support his family in decent comfort, but never enough that he would be tempted to forget his dependence upon God for every mouthful of food that they ate or every dollar they spent on clothing, housing, education, transportation, and the other essentials of our lives.
Remember the parable that Jesus tells of the very wealthy farmer who had bumper crops and nowhere to store all his produce. So he built larger barns, and then said to himself: “Now, take your rest. Eat, drink, and enjoy life since you have all you need for the future.” Then God addresses the rich man and says, “You fool! This very night you must give up your soul!” He says elsewhere, “You cannot serve both God and money.” So, let us adore the true God as he wishes to be adored, and use money wisely lest it alienate us from our Heavenly Father. Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.