The Purpose of Wealth

Luke 16: 9-15
Rom 16:3-9,16,22-27 / Ps 145

You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
(Luke 16:15)

We can become poor in wisdom,
Or other things like power and health;
But if it keeps us from God’s kingdom,
The worst poverty of all is wealth.

(Jesus said to His disciples), “I tell you, make friends for yourselves with wealth tainted as it is, so that when it fails you may be welcomed into eternal dwellings. He who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and he who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If then you have not been trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? And if you have not been trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this, and they sneered at Him. And He said to them, “You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:9-15)

Reflection

Like the dishonest steward who was summoned by his master to give an account of his master’s possessions, all of us will also be called one day before Divine Providence to give a report on the stewardship of the Lord’s resources. We will be asked if we made friends with the destitute and the disadvantaged with the wealth that God had entrusted to us. Or did we, like the rich man in the parable, ignore the Lazaruses who begged for food at our gate?

Most people who have grown rich and powerful tend to forget that we came into this world with nothing. Everything belongs to God, and all the things in our possession and power are only put under our care for two primary purposes: to make this world a better place for others who are not as fortunate, and to help promote the kingdom of God by assisting His workers. Of course God also wants us to enjoy the fruits of our enterprise and to provide for the future of our loved ones. But God wants us to exercise prudence in the management of our resources, and not be ruled by the desire to accumulate wealth for its own sake. That is why Jesus warned us that, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Only one or the other can occupy our hearts, and Jesus teaches us here why man turns from God to mammon. It is greed, that excessive desire for perpetual security. And how blind the greedy are, as there is nothing perpetual in this life. It is not how much we acquire but how much we have given that makes us immortal. Generosity perpetuates our name; greed diminishes it. The poor that we have helped with our money will be our eternal friends who will speak well of us before the throne of God. But if, because of greed or selfishness, we were not generous with that tainted thing called ‘wealth’, how could we expect to be entrusted with the true riches of heaven?

Who then is the Master in charge of my life? Is it the love of material possessions? The pride and power of position and prestige? Is it the raging passion for women? Or addiction to food, alcohol or drugs? There is only one Master who can free us from our slavery to sin and material obsessions. That Master is our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Lord and giver of light, and we are the children of light.

Lord, let Your love burn brightly in our hearts so that we may never be distracted. Free us from greed and enslavement to all material things with your grace of generosity. Help us in times of economic difficulties to be more honest in our work, to be models of true service and integrity. For it is only by being good stewards that we can help in propagating Your kingdom here on earth. Amen.

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