Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Lk 16:13)
The teaching that Jesus wants to give us here concerns wealth, and Luke who is the evangelist of the poor, acts as his spokesperson. The Aramaic word for “mammon” means material goods but Jesus uses the word “mammon” as the embodiment of treasures that take the place of God in people’s hearts. It hearkens back to the Old Testament which says: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart…” (Dt 6:5) Loving God is not a choice but a command.
The danger of wealth is that people fall in love with it to the point that they put all their strength and all their time into holding on to it and increasing it. Wealth becomes an idol to which everything else is sacrificed. So Jesus compares this mammon to a master who is so demanding that he won’t allow any other. This is why Jesus is saying we need to make a choice without compromises. “No servant can serve two masters.” Jesus is not placing before us an alternative of choosing God or mammon. He says clearly in our lives we must choose God.
He is not condemning wealth but the exclusive place it can occupy in the human heart. He doesn’t require absolute poverty of everyone. Disciples like Joseph of Arimathea were wealthy. What is needed is a sense of detachment, a certain disinterest. Wealthy persons should consider themselves not so much owners as administrators of goods they possess for these goods belong primarily to God and are destined not only to a privileged few but to everyone. Wealth is an excellent tool if used to serve those in need, to do good and to promote social well-being, not only by means of charitable works but also in the management of business. This is the only way to use our goods without becoming enslaved by them. Where our treasure is there is also our heart.
Sam tells this story: I was approaching twenty-one years of employment with the same company, making a good salary and receiving good benefits. There were rumors that our department would close and that is what happened. All the staff of our department were assigned to a placement center for sixty days.
In a few days I had an interview in the company and it went well. But as I was leaving a little voice from inside kept saying, “What that department is involved in is unacceptable to your beliefs.” It caught me by surprise because I had worked in that same division twenty-one years before and thought nothing of it. But now having made a choice to put God first in my life I couldn’t turn my back on him.
I talked it over with my wife, Rita, and we agreed I should not take this particular job. The next day I turned down the offer that would have given me the same pay, benefits and security to which we had become accustomed. As we watched twenty years of hard work and dreams—all our security—vanish before our eyes, the whole family turned to God.
Rita added: When Sam and I sat down to discuss the job offer, the idea of holding on to the security was tempting, but we really had the feeling that God was asking us to say yes to him by turning our backs on material worries and really placing ourselves in his hands, trusting in his providence.
God Bless You,