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BY DAVE DURAND
converted to the Catholic faith and I am having a difficult time discerning
what parts of my old life might be inconsistent with my new life in Christ. In
the past, I was very driven to achieve aggressive financial goals, and I have
done well in that regard. Could you clarify what the Church says about
balancing the drive for material security with the desire for salvation and
Congratulations on your “new
life” as a Catholic. Jesus says that you cannot serve both God and money
because you will love one and hate the other (Matthew 6:24). He also says that
it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a
rich man to enter the Kingdom
of God (Mark 10:25). An
isolated reading of these verses can trigger concern for anyone who has amassed
wealth. The pursuit of wealth, power and fame can lead people to sin and
separation from God. Christ warns us of that because he loves us.
God wants us to beware of all
things that could separate us from him. The wealth that many Americans posses
or strive for can cause a spiritual fog, if not total blindness. We sometimes
hear people brush these passages aside. But many of the great saints wrote very
specifically about wealth and poverty. St. John Chrysostom,
for example, preached repeatedly on the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. As
a result, he was hated by many wealthy leaders. He challenged them to search
their conscience about the corruption that their wealth caused in their lives.
Having read these and many other similar writings from the saints, I cannot
suggest that you blissfully move along in life without taking a hard look at
what really drives you — God or money.
At the same time, as with most
concepts in Scripture, it is important to read God’s word in its full context.
I would ask that you reflect upon Jesus’ parable of the talents in Matthew
25:14-30. In this story, a righteous “boss” condemns the worst worker and
rewards the best. The master gave talents to the servants according to their
ability and expected each of them to use them to their fullest. You might say
that he wanted the greatest return on his investment.
Jesus does the same for each of
us. He expects us to use our gifts in order to help build his Kingdom. If you
have been given a gift to amass wealth, then you may be called to apply that
gift. But there are some important things you should do in order to grow in
It is important to examine your
conscience in order to know your true motives. If you are building wealth in
order to share it with others and to glorify God, then you will grow in
holiness during the pursuit. But if you are acquiring wealth for vain glory or
because you find your greatest satisfaction in money rather than in Christ,
then you would do well to heed Christ’s “God vs. mammon” warnings.
A final thought: God wants
everyone to be Catholic, the rich and the poor. That is what makes us all the
body of Christ. Where would the Church and the poor receive financial help if
all Catholics chose poverty?
Catholic motivational speaker Dave Durand’s latest
Perpetual Motivation. He’s online at DaveDurand.com.