Your heart should not be where your earthly riches lie
The early believers, at a time when Christian movement began to spread the good news of Christ in Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria and to the end of the earth, did not consider the individual property or money as their own. They shared everything they had with one another.
By K. L. Joseph
We may make every effort to reach the feet of God, but in our journey towards God we may come up many obstacles. Desire for wealth is one of the traits in human nature and it generates an unsatisfied longing to become rich. With the result, the aspirant fails to discern the pitfalls hidden in this trait and the dangers in chasing after the money. Soon, money becomes his idol for worship on account of his insatiable longing to acquire it more and more. He then tends to abandon God as thoughts of money make deep roots in his heart. Sooner or later his unbridled avarice for money will lead him into destruction.
“No one can be a slave of two masters; he will hate one and love the other; he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You can not serve both God and money”(Matthew 6: 24). So, when a person becomes a slave to money, he abandons God. Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, who being tempted by his greed for money abandoned Jesus and betrayed him to death. The price for betrayal offered to him by the Chief Priests amounted to just 30 silver coins. With the money Judas got for betraying Jesus, he bought a field where he fell to his death, burst open and all his bowels spilt out. This is what will happen to a person while worshiping money and showing disloyalty towards the true God.
Even among the lives of the early Christians, evil influence of money can be noticed. The early believers, at a time when Christian movement began to spread the good news of Christ in Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria and to the end of the earth, did not consider the individual property or money as their own. They shared everything they had with one another. For example, if one had to sell his property, then the money realised out of sale proceeds would be handed over to the Apostles for distribution to each one according to his need. But there was a man named Ananias, who with his wife Sapphira, sold a field that belonged to them. But Ananias did not hand over the entire money he received out of the sale of his field. He and his wife kept a part of the money for themselves and handed over only the remaining sum to the Apostles , thus deviating from the covenant arrived at between the early believers of the church in the matter of sharing their possessions ( Acts 4. 32-37). Peter then said to him, Ananias, why did you let Satan take control of you and make you lie to the Holy Spirit by keeping part of the money. As soon as Ananias heard this, he fell dead. This was the aftermath of worshipping money and despising God. Sapphira, wife of Ananias too met with the same tragic end. Peter said to Sapphira, “Why did you and your husband decide to put the Lord’s Spirit to the test? The men who buried your husband are now at the door, and they will carry you out too! “ On hearing this, at once she fell down at his feet and died.
Even today money has entered into our worship of God. Why does the practice of collecting money from the members of the parish during the holy mass still exist in the Syro Malabar Churches? Why the money so collected on a Sunday Mass is announced at the succeeding Sunday Mass? These unsavoury practices are not part of the liturgy. When money is mixed with the worship, we fail to take cognizance of the spirit of gospels? Why should the faithful coming to Church bring money into worship? Why should we debase our worship of God with an admixture of unclean thoughts of money? As the waves and ripples on the water obscure the sand bed below so are the desires for money which obscure one’s faculty of perceiving the presence of God at the altar of the Lord where we offer the Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist signifies our thanksgiving to the Lord for the sufferings that he endured on the cross for our eternal salvation from damnation, by sacrificing his body and shedding the last drop of his blood. So, by doing this act contrary to the scriptures, what we offer as our worship to God at the altar of his temple does not reach Him, because it turns to be an idol worship of money, much disliked and condemned by Him.
Money is a trap for those who are fascinated by it and such people will go to any extend for amassing it by ignoring the perils lurking behind it. The Book of Sirach ( Ecclesiasticus: 40. 12 - 14) says: “Nothing that comes from bribery or injustice will last, but the effects of loyalty will remain for ever. Wealth that has been obtained dishonestly is like a stream that runs full during a thunderstorm, tumbling rocks along as it flows, but then suddenly goes dry.” This condition is the result of Evil. However the riches one earns through honest means and by living in fellowship with God will be his permanent investment on earth and heaven. The Parable of the rich fool in the gospel of Luke (12. 13-21) throws sufficient light on the perils of the unbridled desire of the man to amass wealth out of greed.
When this rich and greedy man told of his plans to enjoy his own life for many years by storing all the good things needed for an easy life by tearing down the old barns and building the bigger ones in its place, then Jesus told him, “You fool! This very night you will have to give up your life; then who will get all these things you have kept for yourself?’ Finally, let us listen to what Paul, the companion and Apostle of Jesus Christ, has written to his assistant Timothy (1 Timothy 6. 6-10 ): “Religion does make a person very rich, if he is satisfied with what he has. What we bring into the world? Nothing! What we can take out of the world? Nothing! So then, if we have food and clothes, that would be enough for us. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and are caught in the trap of many foolish and harmful desires, which pull them down to ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a source of all kinds of evil. Some have been so eager to have it that they have wandered away from the faith and have broken their hearts with many sorrows”.
The parable of the rich fool and Paul’s First letter to Timothy are sufficient enough to realise the perils of abandoning faith in God and staying away from worshipping Him. Your heart should not be where your earthly riches lie to make it a slave to money and an alien to God. So to be in union with God (Matthew 6: 33) “Set your heart first on the kingdom and justice of God and all these things will also be given to you.”
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