Monday, July 07, 2008

"And I say to you: Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity; that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings." (Luke 16:9)

In this passage, Our Lord advices the rich to use their wealth to win the prize of eternal happiness rather than meet the end of young and rich but careless man: "rich man.. died: and he was buried in hell." (Luke 16:22). In this way, by almsgiving, money of the rich may be used in charity to improve lives and satisfy the needs of the poor. Sadly, quite often, money are used rather to multiply riches of those who already possess them and often by means of mere exploitation of those less fortunate, and this is what is named 'mammonism'. Webster dictionary (1977 edition) defines the term of 'mammon' as : 1) the false god of riches and avarice. 2) riches regarded as an object of worship and greedy pursuit; wealth as an evil, more or less personified. Love of riches is one of the capital vices, and has been declared fruitless in the Holy Scripture: "he that loveth riches shall reap no fruit from them" (Ecclesiastes 5:9). The Church in her teachings has been always clear against 'mammonism', because of its uncharitableness: "Prayer is not genuine but false if it is not supported by charity towards God and the neighbour". The Church has also been giving good example by distributing alms and defense of social justice:" Is not this rather the fast that I have chosen? loose the bands of wickedness, undo the bundles that oppress, let them that are broken go free, and break asunder every burden. Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the harbourless into thy house: when thou shalt see one naked, cover him, and despise not thy own flesh." (Isaias 58:6,7). We have rights to earn decent wages for our work, to be able to provide proper nurishment, education and standard of living for our families including decent leisure time: "for the workman is worthy of his meat." (Matt 10:10). Those in authority should always listen to justified demands and needs of their working force, for those who exploit others well deserve to be reprimanded by Christ: "Beware of the scribes, who desire to walk in long robes, and love salutations in the marketplace, and the first chairs in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts: Who devour the houses of widows, feigning long prayer. These shall receive greater damnation." (Luke 20:46).

Image: 'Lazarus at the rich man house' by Gustave Dore