The goods of the earth and the supernatural end of man

The Apostles saw with sorrow - the Lord too - how the young man who did not want to leave aside his riches to follow the Master was leaving. They saw him leave with that sadness peculiar to the one who does not correspond to what God asks of him. Perhaps everyone thought that he could have been one of the group of the most intimate, those who listened to Jesus' endearing confidences and later received the mandate to evangelize the world, to go with the doctrine of Christ to the ends of the earth.

In this climate, as they set out on their journey, the Lord said to them: "It will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And he added: Moreover, I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. And the disciples were greatly astonished.

He who sets his heart on the goods of the earth makes himself incapable of finding the Lord, because man can have God as his goal, whom he also reaches through material things as the simple means they are, or he can make riches the goal of his life, in its many manifestations of desire for luxury, for comfort, for possessing more.... The heart is oriented according to one of these two ends. Whoever has it full of material goods cannot love God: one cannot serve God and riches, the Lord taught on another occasion.

The original Aramaic term for riches used by the Lord is Mammon, which "derisively designates an idol. Why is it an idol? For two reasons. First, because the idol is a substitute for God. It is either one or the other (...). Secondly, because of its content. Beyond money, a simple monetary unit, the Mammon idol symbolizes an instrument of the will to power, a means of possession of the world, an expression of the greed for things and also a deviation of the relations of men among themselves. The dominion that the idol exercises over man is opposed to what is proper to the human person created in the image and likeness of God, and therefore to his relationship with the Creator."

He who places his desire in the things of the earth as if they were an absolute good commits a kind of idolatry, corrupting his soul as it is corrupted by impurity, and often ends up joining the "princes of this world," who rise up against God, against Christ.

The inordinate love of material goods, whether few or many, is a very serious obstacle to the following of Christ, as manifested in the passage of the rich young man that we considered in our meditation yesterday, and in the harsh and forceful words with which the Lord condemns the misuse of riches. Therefore, the Christian must frequently examine whether he loves sobriety and temperance, whether he is truly detached from the things of the earth, whether he values the goods of the soul more than those of the body, whether he uses his goods to do good, whether they bring him closer to God or separate him from Him, whether he is frugal in his personal needs, restricting superfluous expenses, not yielding to whims, watching out for the tendency to create false needs for himself. He has to see if he takes care of the things of his home, the instruments of work.... What a pity if at times we do not see Jesus passing by us because we have our hearts set on something that we will soon have to leave! Something that is worth so little in comparison to the unlimited riches that Christ gives to those who follow him!