Addiction to Wealth

Matthew 19:16-22
Ez 24:15-23 / Deut 32

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)

There is poverty in wisdom,
Power, talent, beauty or health;
But if it keeps us from God’s kingdom,
The greatest poverty is wealth.

Just then 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, 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.’” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “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

He was a very rich man, owning vast real estate. A man shrewd in all things, 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. But keen that he was on all matters that he set his heart to, he approached Jesus for advice. “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” When our Lord told him the one thing that he lacked – freedom from his material attachments – “Go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, then 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, how often do we wonder if we are doing enough to ensure the salvation of our soul? I have been fortunate to have finished my high school and college in a school where the principle of “being a man for others” was emphasized as key to finding fulfillment in life. When I joined the Knights of Columbus, I learned an apt reminder in the Latin words, “Tempus fugit, memento mori” – which means, “Life is short, remember death”. One can only wonder therefore why so many intelligent people, Christians at heart, forget their eternal goal once they have reached 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 66, I have realized 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 my renewal community. With these, 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 as entering the kingdom of heaven? (Luke 10:25) Are we willing to share our wealth and resources with the poor in order to follow Jesus?

Thank You, Lord for revealing this wisdom to me, and enriching my faith. Amen.

Comments are closed.