Monday, November 12, 2007

Filthy Lucre

“Make friends for yourselves with filthy money, so that, when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” (Luke 16:9)
Saturday night in San Juan I had to preach on the Gospel that begins with that sentence and ends with this admonition:
“”You cannot serve God and Money.” (Luke 16: 13)

How do you speak of money in the midst of the poor?

I actually began my reflection with this question. I mentioned that if I were in the US I might share a quotation from St. Gaudentius of Brescia, a fifth century bishop, that I found in Spanish on a daily Gospel site :
Those friends who will obtain salvation for us are, evidently, the poor, because, according to the word of Christ, He himself is the author of the eternal reward and will gather up in the poor the services which our charity will have procured for them. Thus, the poor will receive us not in their name but in the name of Him who in them tastes the refreshing fruit of our obedience and our faith. Those who carry out this service of love will be received in the eternal mansions of the Kingdom of the heavens, since Christ will say, “Come blessed of my Father, receive as inheritance the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me drink” (Mat 25, 34)
But, I added, how can I, who am rich in comparison to all the people in San Juan, preach on this Gospel? A woman interrupted me and reminded me that there are rich in Honduras who don’t share and need to hear that word of Gaudentius.

But instead of pursuing this idea, I went on to try to help them think about what this Gospel means for them. I mentioned that it obviously refers to all who are attached to money and that there are poor who have the heart of the rapacious rich who only wish to hoard things for themselves. And there are the rich with the heart of the poor who know how to share.

I asked them to think of people in their community who share the wealth they have: these are showing something of God’s love for others and making “friends.”

I also reminded them that no matter how little we have all we have is God’s gift to us and we are called to be good administrators, of even the little we have.

But, all in all, I felt very inadequate – even though I know that Jesus himself was talking to the poor who had little or nothing.

I wonder how Jesus would explain this to the people of San Juan. I did the best I could but in some ways this Gospel passage may be meant more as a challenge to us who are rich.

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