The Addiction of 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.

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus answered, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall 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)


Apparently, he was a very rich man, owning vast real estate. Shrewd in this world, he also wanted to ensure his “accomplishment” of winning eternal life. That was why he was also an obedient Jew, following all the laws and decrees in the Torah. Keen that he was on all matters that he set his heart on, he approached Jesus for advice. “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” When our Lord told him the one thing that he lacked – freedom from his material attachments – “Go sell what you have, give to the poor . . . and come follow me,” his face fell, and he went away sad, because he was totally addicted to his possessions.

Like the rich man asking Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, do we not often wonder if we were doing enough to ensure the salvation of our soul? Some of us have been fortunate, finishing our high school or college in a Catholic school, and being guided by the principle of “being men for others”. This was emphasized to us as key to finding fulfillment in this life. The Knights of Columbus gave an apt reminder in the Latin words, “Tempus fugit, memento mori” – which means, “Life is short, remember death”. One can only wonder why so many intelligent people, Christians at heart, forget these eternal goals once they reach the pinnacle of their earthly success.

With these thoughts in mind, there are times when I pray to God, “Thank You, Lord that You have not allowed me to become rich and powerful.” I remember a passage in the Bible that says, “Man in his prosperity is like cattle led to slaughter.” At this stage in my life, I have come to realize that true wealth lies in having genuine friends, being physically fit, enjoying the love of wife, children, grandchildren and in-laws, and being active in a renewal community. With these blessings, why should I envy the rich and well-off, who have as much as a camel’s chance of entering the eye of a needle in entering the kingdom of God? (Luke 10:25)

Am I willing to share my wealth and resources with the poor in order to follow Jesus? Thank You, Lord for revealing this wisdom to us, and enriching our faith. Amen.

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