The WORD in Other Words by Fr Bobi Scholz SVD (Germany)
Monday Week 8 Ordinary Time
Financial concerns very much occupy our attention, whether rich or poor. The usual thinking is: Get wealthy. Jesus, however, warns against accumulating riches. “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus talks not about squeezing into heaven at the hour of death but about being on the side of God, following God’s program.
Since Jesus’ proposal is quite different from the usual thinking, the apostles are “exceedingly astonished.” First, he cites the commandments: “You shall not steal; you shall not defraud (cheat).” He tells us to practice justice and honesty, about not taking for yourself what belongs to others. Second, Jesus tells the richman: “Sell what you have! Give to the poor!” He proposes to free oneself of riches and share these with the needy – solidarity with others.
Jesus’ proposals are a remedy against two evils: corruption and consumerism which advocate acquiring more wealth for the self by any means without regard for others. And so we pay “grease money” (lagay) everywhere to bypassbeneficial laws. Jesus rejects the materialistic mentality of greed. His program is justice, honesty and solidarity – virtues that bring us closer to God’s kingdom. An international charity organization pointed out that much poverty would be alleviated if all paid their taxes or if wealth is “ours to share” based on a Catholic Filipino lawyer’s plan for social justice.
Many will consider such a program impossible. The rich man went away sad; the apostles doubted it: “Then who can be saved?” Greed, corruption, and consumerism can be defeated with God’s help. The light of the Gospel and the grace of prayer and communion enable us to do a step towards God’s kingdom of justice and life for all.