The god named Mammon

Dispatches from Fr. Charitas

Monday, April 9, 2018

Christ warned His disciples and we who follow in their footstep. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)  Christ seems rather direct and emphatic with His words. It is one or the other. In the medieval imagery, the writers used the Mammon or the devil of covetousness. The devil, the one who tempts; covetousness, the desire to possess something belonging to someone else. Modern preachers I find to have not much to say about that vague commandment that is spelled out with so many in the Ten Commandments. I think we have not given it much thought, but maybe in our present times, we ought to give more. Can you recite the wording of that commandment? “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” Sounds rather archaic, does it not? Yet … there it is. But how might one apply it to real life, the life we live each day?

Being a servant of Mammon and his ways … being a worshipper of money … what is the nature of that way of life?

mammonOur culture does give reference to this understanding of Mammon when we use the words …” the Almighty Dollar”. Our culture does imbue money with power and prestige, liberty to do whatever one wants to do, even the measurement of one’s worth and success. Money is used to prove that those who have it must be more industrious and smarter than those who have less money. In a bit of irony … where once Christ referred to Caesar’s image on a Roman coin, now we in America place IN GOD WE TRUST on our American coins, though if you think about … it is not specific which god it is. We only presume … but a visitor from a far-off universe might first assume that the God was a deity that mints money, or the pantheon of god included Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt and others. What if Christ were to have lived in our present American culture … would He have still asked whose image was on the coin?

Money is a convenient form of exchange, a means to trade one thing for another. Though we speak of the value of the dollar … it is not endowed with moral or spiritual values. Money seems to provide security … in certain ways, yes, in most ways, no. Money is often used to measure the “wealth” of a country. But the wealth of a country is vastly more than its money (or even it military). But we save government is a business, even that the church is a business … when neither of these is a business. Oh, it is wise stewardship to make effective use of resources … but government and church are not for the purpose of making profits or one day liquidating the capital gained by the enterprise when its work is done.

My Loved Ones, I have sat with the wealthy and I have sat with the poor … and the money has nothing to do with true nobility and genuine worth.

In His Service always,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz

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