Money Is Not Our Master


Pope Francis keeps on calling us to listen afresh to the Lord and to open our hearts and minds to the message of the Gospel in an attitude of availability to be challenged and renewed in living our Christian life. He has clearly and powerfully challenged the whole Church not only to be poor but also to be at the side of the poor, to make common cause with those who suffer. His example of simplicity and detachment from riches and money is truly outstanding, and it enables him to approach people in a new way, and to be a sign of hope for everyone.




During the Jubilee Year 2000, several books and articles have explored the implications of the Gospel message concerning the state of today’s economy and the fact that it has taken the lion’s share in our life and seems to be ruling the world. Most authors were of the opinion that it was necessary to reflect on the way in which things were moving in the financial world, as it was in a kind of “unhealthy” state and was, thus, leading the whole humanity towards a major crisis. Their cry fell on deaf ears, since those who were in control of the economy were making a lot of money – always at the expense of the poor – and were not willing to let go of a system that was so lucrative. There was an implicit consensus among business leaders that success in business and finance had little to do with morality and attention to the person, especially the poor. The main and sole aim of business is to make money (and as much as possible) and embark only on profitable activities, irrespective of any moral or human issues. 

Now, we are right in the middle of a world economic crisis which has highlighted more and more the chronic injustice of the world where, once again, the poor have to pay for the shortsightedness and mistakes of politicians and economists. The old financial culture has been beneficial only to a handful of people, in the short term, but it has proved fragile, if not self-destructive, in the long run. And even though both politicians and economists keep on telling us that things are looking brighter and that the worst of the crisis is over, deep down, we all know that our present economic system is still fragile.  

It is enough for us to look around in order to see that, unless we are ready to make a radical change in the way the economy runs the world, the situation will get worse and more and more people will feel the pinch of the crisis. Our faith in business has led us to the drain… and, at last, we begin to realize that business has responsibilities to the whole world, to the welfare of people and their dignity, and not only to the enrichment of some shareholders. What has been forgotten is “the common good,” and the only way to move forward and to build a better world, is to reform the business culture.



The words at the core of our reflection are found in the Gospel passage of the temptations of Jesus. Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert immediately after having received the baptism at the River Jordan, where he had joined the crowds of people (= sinners) who had gathered to listen to the words of John the Baptist and be baptized. This is how Luke (4:1-4) describes the first temptation of Jesus: “Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over, He was hungry. The devil said to Him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.’Jesus answered him, ‘It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone.’”

In this first temptation, Jesus replies to the devil by quoting Deut. 8:3, thus making it clear not only that the people of God had already been tempted in the same way, but also that this temptation seems to be rooted in our human makeup. Yes, right from the beginning of history, we see that human beings are deeply attracted to riches and money, and are easily drawn into believing that the best way to value their “worth” is by looking at what they own and possess. 

This temptation affects us, too, in different ways: we desire to be rich, to add more money to what we already possess; we envy those who have more than ourselves, and slowly this desire to have more and more makes us selfish, self-centered, as well as unable to relate to the others as human beings, to respect creation, and to cherish the human values of solidarity, communion, and love. So many negative consequences – for us and for others – spring from this attitude towards money and wealth which ultimately leads to greed! 



Jesus tells us that this is not the way in which we find the fullness of life. In the prayer that He taught us, He has told us to ask the Father for “our daily bread,” and not for a bank account, money, etc. It’s interesting to note that in the Our Father we are taught not only the vocabulary of prayer, namely “You” (and Your) and “our,” but also the vocabulary of life! We address God as our loving Father (Abba) because all of us are His beloved sons and daughters, and we pray together asking that all of us be given what we need day in and day out, in order to live in simplicity, and in an attitude of greater fraternity and solidarity, knowing that what we receive from the Father comes to us as a gift to be shared with others.

The time has come for us to sit once again at the feet of the Lord and to listen to His Gospel message which challenges, in a powerful way, the manner in which we live and the values that direct our everyday choices. Many times we look at the Gospel message as something which has to do only with our “souls” and inner life; with God; with what we might call “spirituality” but which does not touch at all our daily life; our relationships with people; with money; politics, ethics, etc. Far too often, we have managed to water down the message of the Lord and to make it not only “nice” and undisruptive, but also harmless, and even supportive of our selfish views and selfish choices. 

And yet see that this message is an important message for everyone, not only for the Christians, but for all human beings, if we want to live a “human” life, a life which upholds humanness and the fact that we are created in the image and likeness of God. And so, one important area for us Christians to reflect upon is that of finances and money. Jesus, especially in the Gospel of Luke, speaks strongly about riches and money, since all of us can easily end up being enslaved by money and riches when we forget that we are beloved sons and daughters of the Father, and that we are brothers and sisters. Our reflection must lead us to make some concrete choices in order to be builders of a better world.  



Pope Francis keeps on calling us to listen afresh to the Lord and to open our hearts and minds to the message of the Gospel in an attitude of availability to be challenged and renewed in living our Christian life. He has clearly and powerfully challenged the whole Church not only to be poor but also to be at the side of the poor, to make common cause with those who suffer. His example of simplicity and detachment from riches and money is truly outstanding, and it enables him to approach people in a new way, and to be a sign of hope for everyone. Here are some of his words that can help us reflect about our human and Christian life: 

“Money sickens our minds, poisons our thoughts, even poisons our faith, leading us down the path of jealousy, quarrels, suspicion and conflict. It drives to idle words and pointless discussions. It also corrupts the mind of some people that see religion as a source of profit. ‘I am Catholic, I go to Mass, everyone thinks well of me… But underneath I have my businesses. I worship money.’ And here we have the word we usually find in newspapers: ‘Men of corrupted minds.’ Money corrupts us! There’s no way out.” 

As a missionary, I realize that we are called to announce the message of life of the Lord and to enable people of all cultures and languages to share the way they live their human life to the full. Our business-oriented society takes away from us our human dignity, and makes us instruments of profit.

In this respect, we missionaries, are called to help our communities to know and study “The Social Teaching of the Church” – until now, unfortunately, is a “well kept secret!” In the light of our reflection and sharing on the social teaching of the Church, which embodies the Gospel values, we shall grow in our understanding of how we are called to live our life to the full as human beings and disciples of Christ, without being enslaved by money and greed. 

Then we shall realize that the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist challenges us to be instruments in building greater solidarity and communion, and that it gives us also the energy to make life choices that are in harmony with the message of the Lord. We shall also get the strength to endure the strong temptation to value ourselves according to the logic of money, riches and wealth, and to understand that our worth is to be found in our being sons and daughters of a loving Father – people who use the goods of the earth in order to foster fraternity and justice among all. Slowly, we shall be renewed and strengthened as we learn to put our faith not in business and money, but rather in the Father who provides for all His beloved sons and daughters and who enables them to live a true human life. 


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