(Vatican Radio) Greed, attachment to money, destroys people, destroys families and relationships with others: That was Pope Francis’ message this morning during Mass in Santa Marta. The invitation is not to choose poverty per se, but to use the wealth that God gives us to help those in need.
Commenting on the day’s Gospel, in which a man asks Jesus to intervene to resolve a problem of inheritance with his brother, the Pope spoke about the problem of our relationship with money:
“This is a day-to-day problem. How many families have we seen destroyed by the problem of money? Brother against brother, father against son. This is the first result that this attitude of being attached to money does: it destroys! When a person is attached to money, he destroys himself, he destroys the family. Money destroys! It does, doesn’t it? It binds you. Money serves to bring about many good things, so many works for human development, but when your heart is attached in this way, it destroys you.”
Jesus tells the parable of the rich man who lives to gather “treasures for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.” Jesus’ warning is to stay away from any kind of greed:
“That’s what does harm: greed in my relationship with money. Having more, having more, having more… It leads you to idolatry, it destroys your relationship with others. It’s not money, but the attitude, what we call greed. Then too this greed makes you sick, because it makes you think of everything in terms of money. It destroys you, it makes you sick. And in the end – this is the most important thing – greed is an instrument of idolatry because it goes along a way contrary to what God has done for us. Saint Paul tells us that Jesus Christ, who was rich, made Himself poor to enrich us. That is the path of God: humility, to lower oneself in order to serve. Greed, on the other hand, takes us on a contrary path: You, who are a poor human, make yourself God for vanity’s sake. It is idolatry!”
This is the reason, the Pope continued, why Jesus says things “so hard, so strong against this attachment to money. He tells us that you can’t serve two masters: both God and money. He tells us not to worry, that God knows what we need” and He invites us “to trusting abandonment to the Father, who makes the lilies of the field flower, and feeds the birds.” The rich man of the parable continues to think only of his riches, but God says to him: “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you!” “This path is contrary to the path of God,” the Pope concluded. “It is foolishness, it takes you far from life, it destroys all human fraternity”:
“The Lord teaches us the path: not the path of poverty for poverty’s sake. No! It is the way of poverty as an instrument, so that God may be God, so that He will be the only Lord! Not the golden idols! And all the goods that we have, the Lord gives them to us to advance the world, to advance humanity, to help, to help others. Today may the Word of the Lord remain in our hearts: “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”