“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
At our school we have a program where we feed and interact with those in some of the poorest areas of Toledo every Monday. A prayer we recite many times is “Poor in the eyes of men and women, rich in the eyes of God, Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, pray for us.” St. Benedict Joseph Labre is the patron saint of the homeless. To be rich means something very different in our Lord’s eyes than in society’s eyes.
The translation of today’s Gospel that we hear at Mass begins “No one can serve two masters…you cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon in Biblical times meant wealth as an evil influence, a false object of worship. In medieval times, mammon was the name of the devil. St. Ignatius wrote of the wiles of the devil which he called “the enemy of our human nature.” The “enemy” leads in subtle ways: first riches, then honors, finally pride, that deep personal satisfaction derived from one’s achievements. Once pride sets in, the “enemy” has separated us from the Lord.
We are rich if we have complete trust in God; poverty is trusting only in one’s self. In today’s reading Jesus reveals what the world does not see. St. Ignatius says we should “desire and choose poverty with Christ poor, other than the world’s riches, insults rather than worldly honors…being a worthless fool for Christ, rather than be esteemed as wise and prudent in the world.” (Spiritual Exercises, 167)
—Greg Richard has served at St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo, OH for thirty-three years. He has been the director of Campus Ministry, Theology teacher, Theology department chair, coach, and Adult Chaplain. He is now the Vice President for Ignatian Identity.
Lord, may we take to heart the words of St. Paul, “Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9). Help us to choose that which leads us closer to a richness of life with you. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer teamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!