He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon."
One of the challenging characteristics of our time is the desire to have it all. We can tend to want to be people of faith and, at the same time, to be part of the values of our culture. It is easy to not even recognize the desire to want to try to serve God and to also serve our earthly desires. Jesus tells us so clearly in the parable of the dishonest steward, which we had yesterday, and in these sayings which follow it, that we can't serve both. We can't have it both ways. There is an incompatibility between these two types of service. Serving God is irreconcilable with worldly wealth. We can't have two masters.
Jesus invites us to reflect upon what he desires for us as his disciples. This reflection is a part of the whole rest of his message to us. He has told us that if we try to save ourselves, we'll end up losing ourselves. He has warned us that it is foolish to gain the whole world and lose our very selves in the process. (Mk 8:34-38) Jesus tells us that our holiness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees or we won't enter the kingdom of heaven.(Mt. 5:20) This might seem odd to us because the scribes and Pharisees had a reputation for being very obedient to the law. But we know that they were also lacking in compassion. In today's gospel we are told that the Pharisees "sneered" at Jesus because they " loved money." Jesus clearly teaches that it will be hard for those who are rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 19:23). When Jesus said this, his disciples really struggled, asking him, "Then, who can be saved?" He answered them, and gives us comfort today, in our situation: "For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible." (Mt. 19:26) Jesus told the parable about the rich fool who had more than he could even store in his barns. Instead of sharing his excess with others, he built bigger barns and decided to "rest, eat, drink, be merry!" In the parable, he ends up dying that night and losing it all. Jesus concludes that story, saying: "Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God." (Lk 12:21)
The message of Jesus is incredibly strong and clear about the dangers of wealth - the very thing we seem to want to pursue with such passion and energy. Jesus doesn't teach us about this way of life to make us miserable, but to reveal to us that placing him at the center of our lives is the way to happiness. We can't serve two masters. Today, each of us can ask ourselves if the Lord is the center of our lives. What possession, possessions, honors, status, future security, dream is standing in the way of my choice to completely live as he has taught us? What things, what ways of living, what dependencies, what desires have some mastery over my life? What freedom can I ask for today? Who around me is in greater need than I am? What changes do all of us need to make - what cultural change is necessary - for us all to make this world the place that Jesus desires for us, for everyone?
Dear Jesus, thank you for these challenging words today. Thank you for inviting me to make a fundamental choice in my life - a choice to let you be the center of my life and to be freer from what's holding on to my heart and freer for love and service of others. May your Word continue to free us all until your kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
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