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The power of money

· The Pope's Mass at Santa Marta ·

We must guard ourselves against the temptation to idolize money, for this may weaken our faith and make us accustomed to the deception of meaningless and hurtful desires,  leading people to destruction and perdition. Pope Francis warned against this danger at  Mass on Friday morning, 20 September, in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

The Holy Father commented on the Readings of the day, saying: “Jesus told us clearly and definitively, that we cannot serve two masters, you cannot serve both God and money. It just doesn't work. There is something about the attitude of love towards money that takes us away from God”. Quoting the First Letter of St Paul to Timothy (6:2-12), the Pope said: “Those who want to be rich fall into temptation and deception, and the many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and perdition”.

In fact it is greed, he continued, that is the “root of all evil. Overtaken by this desire, some have wandered away from the Faith and are grabbed by many torments. It is the power of money that makes you deviate from authentic faith. It cuts you away from the Faith, and weakens you so that you lose it”. And continuing to expand on the letter of St Paul, the Pope pointed out the apostle's warning that “if anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and doctrine, conforming to true religion, then he is blinded by pride, does not understand anything, and is a maniac of idle issues and useless discussions”.

But St Paul goes even further, noted the Pope, and writes that it is from this “that arises envy, strife, slander, evil suspicions, conflicts of the corrupt minds of men, and the deprivations of truth that consider religion as only a source of gain”.

The Pope then referred to those who claim to be Catholic merely because they go to Mass, to those who think of being Catholic as a status and that “underneath they have other intentions”. In this regard, the Pope recalled that Paul uses a particular term, that “very, very often we find this in the newspapers: Men whose minds are corrupted! Money corrupts. There is no way out. If you choose this path of money in the end you will become corrupt. Money seduces you, and makes you slowly slip into perdition. And that is why Jesus is so determined: You cannot serve both God and money, you cannot: either one or the other. And this is not communism, this is pure Gospel. These things are the words of Jesus”.

“So what happens with money?” the Pope asked. “Money offers a degree of prosperity: you are alright, you feel a little important and then comes the vanity. We have read in Psalms [48]: this vanity comes to you. A vanity that is not needed, but makes you feel like an important person”. Vanity, pride, wealth: is how men are described in the Psalms: those who “trust in their strength, and boast of their great wealth”. And so what is the truth? The truth, the Pope explained, is that “no one can redeem himself, or pay to God the appropriate price. The redemption of a life would be too expensive. No one can save themself with money”, however strong the temptation be to chase “the wealth of feeling sufficient, the vanity of feeling important and, in the end, pride and arrogance”.

The Pope then spoke of the sin that is linked to the greed of money, with all that that it entails, in the first of the Ten Commandments. “Idolatry”, he said, “the money becomes an idol of worship for you. And that is why Jesus tells us: You cannot serve both the idol of money and the living God. Either one or the other”. The early Fathers of the Church, “used a strong words when they said: money is the dung of the devil. It is so, because it makes idolators, makes our minds sick with pride, and makes us maniacs with idle questions that lead us away from Faith. It corrupts”. The apostle Paul tells us to instead strive for righteousness, piety, faith, charity, and patience. To be against vanity, and against pride. Indeed “this is the way of God, not that of the idolatrous power that money gives you. It is the road of humility in Jesus Christ, who in being rich became poor to enrich us with his own poverty. This is the way to serve God. May the Lord help us all to not fall into the trap of the idolatry of money”.

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