Addiction to Wealth

Matthew 19:16-22
Jgs. 2: 11-19 / Psa 106

If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.
(Matthew 19:21)

When wealth becomes your lifelong goal,
Its possession your sole desire,
Its power will corrupt your soul,
And doom you to eternal fire.

Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus replied, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” “Which ones?” the man inquired. Jesus replied, ” ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'” The young man said, “All these I have kept, what do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Matthew 19: 16-22)

Reflection

The young man who came to Jesus wanted to justify himself, for he knew that he had kept all the commandments. In all likelihood, he was hoping that Jesus would give him some kind of commission befitting his stature, or the honor of being their group’s official benefactor. He never expected that Jesus’ reply would be for him to sell everything that he had, and give the money to the poor. Although he could spare to give a part of his great possessions, he could not bring himself to part with all of it for Jesus’ sake.

In our mission to bring the values of Jesus Christ to the marketplace, many of us must have experienced the same kind of disappointment that our Lord felt over the rich young man who had at first shown interest in eternal life, but later walked away when he learned the stakes involved. We can never be true followers of Christ unless we are willing to give our total commitment. And one can only be totally committed to if he is willing to serve only one Master (Mt. 6:24). As our Lord Jesus said in Luke 14:33, “Everyone who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be My disciple.”

All Christians want to be assured of their passage to heaven, but how many are willing to pay the ultimate price? Of course it is only from His ministers (priests and bishops) that Jesus requires total renunciation of material things – that is why they take the vow of poverty – but all Christians who want to gain eternal life must also be “broken and shared” in imitation of the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t have to sell all our properties to help alleviate poverty in order to be assured of a place in Paradise, but we must at least show God that serving Him through kindness and compassion to the poor is more important than the preservation of our wealth.

When we consider the addictive power of wealth, we can only pray to God, “Thank You, Lord that You have not allowed me to become rich and powerful.” A passage in the Bible says, “Man in his prosperity is like cattle led to slaughter.” Indeed, true wealth does not lie in money and possessions. It lies in genuine friends, being physically fit, enjoying the love of wife, children, and grandchildren, and in being active in our renewal community. With all these, why envy the rich and powerful, who only have as much as a camel’s chance of entering the eye of a needle as entering the kingdom of God? (Luke 10:25)

Grant us, loving Father, to become fully committed to follow Your will, as our Lord Jesus had done when He sacrificed His life to complete Your Divine Plan for our salvation. Thank You, Lord Jesus for teaching us how in Your Holy Gospel. Amen.

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