Saturday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 490

You cannot serve God and mammon.”
The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things and sneered at him. And he said to them, “You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.”



Those who love money still sneer at Jesus and, for that matter, at anyone who doesn't love money. Money, to them, is real. It is more real than any thing in this world. Their ultimate prize is described in sayings like, "If you can say how much money you have, you're not rich." and "If you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it." They learn nothing from the frequent crises and crashes of the economy. 

I wonder how long the human race managed without money. Paleontologists estimate the human race is 200,000 years old. The first cities appeared only 6000 years ago. They apparently developed writing to assist the process of trading; and then money later on. Only slowly would bartering give way to cash. It takes a lot of faith in the artificial systems humans devise to believe that money is worth more than food, clothing, housing and other necessities. 

Given bubbles, inflation and crashes, not to mention the fraudulence of the banking industry, it's a wonder anyone believes in it. Banking should be nothing more than a utility, like electricity, water and sewage. 

The real economy that will never disappear is the giving and receiving of ordinary human commerce. We care about and support one another. If we didn't do that we would certainly perish, almost overnight.

Generous parents still give to their children without hesitation; and adult children support their parents. "Social Security" was supposed to replace that safety net; we realize today it never will because it's founded on the same principle of able workers supporting the elderly and disabled. A crisis develops when there aren't enough workers. Any system built on entitlement is doomed from the get-go. 

Catastrophes also reveal our natural instinct to support one another. Cynical economists say we should live by the law of supply and demand; that the price of food, medicine and fuel should skyrocket during crises -- but many people share with one another until the hardship passes. 

Money is not evil; it has its uses. With it we develop economic systems that tell us the relative worth of our transactions. "Supply and demand" serves as a useful rule of thumb most of the time. The principle "Buy low, sell high" -- within reasonable limits -- lubricates the movement of goods to where they're needed. 

But the one who loves money ahead of his family, friends, neighbors, strangers and enemies is a fool. He has invested in imaginary wealth; he will disappear into the abyss when the Lord comes to reveal the absolute worth of everything. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.