That “poor” rich man… 18Sep2016

image-of-divine-mercy (2)“Penetrate into the spirit of My poverty and arrange everything in such a way that the most destitute will have no reason to envy you. I find pleasure, not in large buildings and magnificent structures, but in a pure and humble heart.”

Words of Jesus to Faustina as recorded in her Diary, par. 532


Jesus is not alone in admonishing the rich. Several times in the Psalms the rich are chided for dishonest wealth.   Mary, in her Magnificat, praises God for his salvific mercy in turning upside down the dishonest ways of the world:

He has mercy on those who fear him…

He has scattered the proud in their conceit…

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones…

The rich he has sent away empty

So often in the bible, as in the admonitions of Jesus, the wealth of the rich man is associated with dishonesty that it causes one to wonder if there can be any “honest” wealth and the rich man is depicted as poor in the eyes of God.

The word mammon is a Greek translation of a Hebrew or Aramaic word that refers to “that in which one trusts.” To characterize wealth as dishonest recognizes the human weakness of greed and its cunning tendency in acquiring wealth for the sake of itself. It also recognizes the poverty of placing too much trust in that which is without Life.

The steward’s job was to act as his master’s agent. The additional amount he added to the debts was his profit. His greed must have been great because the reduction he grants in the debts is his own profit; he is not reducing what is owed to his master. His cunning is an act of self-preservation and Jesus uses his actions as an example of worldly prudence—acting with wise and good judgment.

The choice for us should be obvious, especially with the caution against trying to serve two masters. The challenge Jesus lays before us is to transcend our human judgment and wisdom and apply our human tendencies toward the Wealth of the Kingdom rather than worldly materialism.

Blessed (rich) are the poor in spirit…

Deacon Richard

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