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Money helps, Covetousness kills

· The Pope's Mass at Santa Marta ·

The following is a synthesis of the homily Pope Francis delivered on Monday morning, 21 October, during the Holy Mass he celebrated in the Chapel of Santa Marta.

Pope Francis commented on the day's Gospel passage taken from St Luke (12:13-21), in which a man asks Jesus to bid his brother divide the inheritance with him. Jesus responds to the man's request by telling the crowd a parable about a rich man who, in the abundance of his wealth, contemplates news ways of storing up his earthly treasure only to find out that his life would be taken from him that very night.

“The Lord speaks to us about our relationship with wealth and money”, Pope Francis began.

“How many families have we seen destroyed by problems over money: brother against brother; father against sons!”  “When a person is attached to money he destroys himself, he destroys his family”

Of course money should not be demonized, the Bishop of Rome noted: “Money helps makes headway with so may good things, so many good works for the development of the human race”.What merits condemnation, he noted, is a distorted use of money, since “whoever lays up treasure for himself  is not rich toward God”.

Hence the Lord's warning: “Take heed and beware of all covetousness” (Lk 12:15)

The Pope explained that covetousness and the constant ambition to have more and more money  “leads to idolatry” and ends in destroying “our relationships with others”. It causes man to become spiritually ill by leading him into a vicious cycle in which all of his thoughts revolve around money.

Covetousness is so dangerous because it serves as “an instrument for idolatry; because it takes us down a road opposed to the one God has traced out for man”. Quoting the Apostle Paul, the Pontiff  said: “Jesus Christ, though he was rich made himself poor in order to enrich us”.

There are two roads man can take: “God's road of humility, of bending down in order to serve” or “the road of covetousness, which ends in idolatry”.

Pope Francis noted that this explains why “Jesus has such harsh and strong things to say against attachment to money: for example, when he tell us: 'you cannot serve two masters' or when he exhorts us: 'do not to worry, for the Lord knows what you need; or again when he leads us to trustful surrender to the Father, who 'makes the lilies of the field grow and feeds the birds of the air'”.

The attitude of the rich man in the parable stands in sharp contrast to this attitude of trust in divine mercy. The rich man could only think about the abundance of grain he had harvested from the fields and the goods he had accumulated. As Pope Francis pointed out, “he could have said to himself: 'I will give this to someone else in order to help them'. Instead, covetousness led him to say: 'I will pull down my barns and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods'. Always more.”

Covetousness, the Pope added, is an attitude that conceals the ambition to attain a kind of “idolatrous divinity” as the rich man's own words bear witness: “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry”.

However, the Pope noted, this is precisely when God leads him back to the reality of his utter creatureliness. “Fool! This night your soul is required of you”.

“The road [of covetousness] is foolishness” Pope Francis said, “for it leads us away from life; it destroys human brotherhood”. And the royal road the Lord shows us “is not a path to poverty for poverty's sake” but rather “an instrument so that God might remain God and the only Lord” in our lives. “The Lord” in fact, “has given us all the goods that we have in order to help others”.

Pope Francis concluded, praying: “May the Lord's word remain in our hearts today” for “even if one has an abundance of wealth, his life does not consist in his possessions”.

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