The parliamentary election in the Republic of Ireland last Thursday took place in the shadow of an enormously deep economic recession. The new government will have to make incredibly tough and painful decisions. The worst possible scenario is what we saw in the streets of Greece in recent times. Our country has also been affected by economic problems – there is virtually no day without discussions about cuts that have to be made at every level of government. Although we are all aware that the cuts are absolutely necessary we worry about how they will touch us and our families. Our economic future is for many the most common anxiety.
Today’s gospel seems to be completely incompatible with our worries. Jesus’ call not to worry about tomorrow might be a good suggestion for someone living on his own; but it makes less sense for people who have to pay bills, feed the family, bring up children. So, let’s consider: is it a good idea for young people? Well, it’s hard to imagine a girl who doesn’t care about her clothes and appearance or a boy with no interest in new gadgets. Apparently then today’s gospel doesn’t say anything to anyone. We all need money and none of us can afford to stop thinking about the future. The gospel seems to be a noble and romantic, but impossible dream.
Actually I think personally that the idea does make sense. Jesus doesn’t speak about throwing away all our earthly means of living. His own practise shows that clearly – his small community had a treasurer (the unfortunate Judas Iscariot), whose task was to keep the books for the community. The ancient Church established deacons as people who were in charge of distributing aid to the poor. Saint Paul urged the communities he visited to collect money for good causes. So, the use of money is not against the gospel.
Without doubt a lust for money has been a driving force for many people across the generations. Fear of an unpredictable future drove many to stock up their barns, increase the size of their herds, and collect gold. Possessions gave people a feeling of safety. The modern way of doing that is investments and bank deposits. Sadly for some people being rich became a goal in its own right. Any way of gaining more money is OK, even if it means trampling on others. Today’s gospel is a warning about treating money as the ultimate value. The words: ‘Set your hearts on God’s kingdom first’ are not an appeal to build a theocratic society, but a call to keep our humanity in the right place; money is good so long as it is used to build a better, more humane world.