Scriptures/Liturgy- Commentary on Sunday's Readings
"How hard it is for those who have
wealth to enter the kingdom of God!"
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFMCap, Pontifical Household Preacher
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
A preliminary observation is necessary to clarify any possible
ambiguities when reading what this Sunday's Gospel says about
Jesus never condemns wealth or earthly goods in themselves. Among
his friends is, also, Joseph of Arimathea, a "rich man"; Zaccheus is
declared "saved," though he kept half his goods for himself which,
given his office of tax collector, must have been considerable.
What Jesus condemns is exaggerated attachment to money and property;
to make one's life depend on these and to accumulate riches only for
oneself (Luke 12:13-21).
The word which God uses for excessive attachment to money is
"idolatry" (Colossians 3:5; Ephesians 5:5). Money is not one of many
idols; it is the idol par excellence, literally, "molten gods"
It is the anti-God because it creates a sort of alternative world,
it changes the object of the theological virtues. Faith, hope and
charity are no longer placed in God, but in money. Effected is a
sinister inversion of all values.
"Nothing is impossible for God," says Scripture, and also:
"Everything is possible for the one who believes." But the world
says: "Everything is possible for the one who has money."
Avarice, in addition to being idolatry, is also the source of
unhappiness. The avaricious is an unhappy man. Distrusting everyone,
he isolates himself. He has not affection, not even for those of his
own flesh, whom he always sees as taking advantage and who, in turn,
really nourish only one desire in regard to him: That he die soon to
inherit his wealth.
Tense to the point of breaking to save money, he denies himself
everything in life and so does not enjoy either this world or God,
as his self-denial is not for him.
Instead of having security and tranquility, he is an eternal hostage
of his money. However, Jesus does not leave any one without the hope
of salvation, including the rich man. The question is not "whether
the rich man is saved" (this has never been in discussion in
Christian tradition), but "What rich man is saved?"
Jesus points out to the rich a way out of their dangerous situation:
"Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor
rust consumes" (Matthew 6:20); "make friends for yourselves by means
of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you
into the eternal habitations" (Luke 16:9).
It might be said that Jesus was advising the rich to transfer their
capital abroad! But not to Switzerland -- to heaven! Many, says St.
Augustine, exert themselves to put their money under earth,
depriving themselves of the pleasure of seeing it, at times all
their life, just to be sure it is safe.
Why not put it no less than in heaven, where it would be much safer,
and where it will be found again one day forever? And how to do
this? It is simple, continues St. Augustine: God offers you the
carriers in the poor. They are going there where you hope to go one
day. God's need is here, in the poor, and he will give it back to
you when you go there.
However, it is clear that today almsgiving and charity is no longer
the only way to use wealth for the common good, or perhaps the most
There is also honesty in paying one's taxes, to create new jobs, to
give a more generous salary to workers when the situation allows it,
to initiate local enterprises in developing countries.
In sum, when one makes money yield, makes it flow, they are channels
for the water to circulate, not artificial lakes that keep it for
[Translation by ZENIT]
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