Saturday, September 22, 2007

25th Sunday of the Year (23rd September 2007)

Readings for today

You cannot serve both God and money

In the last couple of weeks we have seen extraordinary events on television as people queued up outside the branches of the Northern Rock bank to withdraw their money. They call it a "run on the bank". Such things have been almost unheard of, in this country at least for more than 50 years. And it seems that those people need not have worried anyway.

But it does lead us to pause and think about this incredible thing called money. After all it is just metal and paper, or perhaps just even plastic, or often not even that. It is numbers and words recorded on computers and spoken over telephone lines. And yet people work for it, and dream of it, and will even kill for it.

But of course, it is not money in itself which they are all after, but what it can do.

It can make us rich. It can make us powerful. It can make us comfortable. It can make us happy.

But can it make us happy? Certainly, many people can be lifted out of misery and suffering but sometimes just a little money – a little to avoid hunger, a little to provide medical care, a little to provide education. And we often suppose that if we just had that lottery win or the unexpected inheritance it would lift us out the need every work again, and give us a life of comfort and luxury.

And yet, the truly rich – do they stop working? Do they stop looking for ways to get more money, more possessions, more power? Not at all, because the pursuit of material things is never ending. It is almost like an addicts compulsion. There can never be enough, because that happiness that we think wealth will bring never actually arrives. They may not suffer from the misery of poverty, they may have all the cars, clothes, gadgets and holidays the rest of us yearn for, but none of these bring true friendship, loyalty, commitment, happiness and love. The most important values and virtues, honesty, courage, reliability, generosity – none of these can be bought.

And this is why Christ says we cannot be slaves of both God and money. To serve God, must always be to put material concerns second. To serve God is to put true human values first. To seek happiness in money, power, possessions, materials things, is to seek fulfilment where it can never be found. It is a pursuit of happiness which will always lead to dissatisfaction, restlessness, bitterness – to unhappiness.

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