Staying in a kind of reflective mode from last Sunday’s Gospel on greed and how to avoid it, let’s ponder why Jesus called some mammon (wealth) unrighteous. The phrase occurs in the Gospel of Luke in which Jesus says, I tell you, make friends for yourselves by your use of dishonest wealth, so that, when it fails, they will welcome you to eternal dwellings (Luke 16:9). We discussed yesterday what it means to be welcomed into eternal dwellings and who these friends who welcome us really are. But in this post perhaps we can consider what the expression “dishonest wealth” means.

More literally the Greek μαμωνᾶ τῆς ἀδικίας (mamona tes adikias) is translated, “mammon of iniquity.” “Mammon” is a Hebrew and Aramaic word that has a wider concept than just money. It refers to wealth in general and, even further, to the things of this world on which we rely. But what is meant by the expression “dishonest wealth”? Why is it called dishonest?

There seem to be various opinions and theories. None of them absolutely exclude the other but they do include some differences in emphasis.  Here are three theories:

1. It refers to wealth that we have obtained in dishonest or illegal ways. Now I personally think that this is unlikely since the Lord’s advice is to take this “dishonest wealth” and give it others. If one has stolen from others the usual remedy is to return the stolen items to them. It is true that the Lord’s advice follows a parable in which a man stole (or embezzled) money. But the Lord is not praising his theft, but rather, his determination to be clever in worldly matters. The Lord wishes his disciples were as clever and thoughtful in spiritual matters. Hence it seems unlikely that the Lord means by “dishonest wealth” merely things that we have stolen. If we steal we ought to return it to the rightful owner, not make friends for ourselves of third parties for our own ultimate gain.

2. It refers to the fact that money and wealth tend to lead us to dishonesty, corruption, and compromise. Since it tends to lead to iniquity it is called (literally) the mammon of iniquity. It is a fact that Scripture generally has a deep distrust of money. For example,

  • How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God (Luke 18:24).
  • Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs (1 Tim 6:9-10).
  • Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God (Prov 30:8).

It’s funny that despite knowing passages like these most of us still want to be rich! But at any rate, this interpretation sees the expression as referring more to where money and wealth lead rather than to money and wealth themselves. Of itself, money is not evil and neither is wealth. But they do tend to lead us into many temptations, to corruption, and to unrighteousness. Hence mammon is called “unrighteous” or “of iniquity.” Some also consider this manner of speaking to be a type of Jewish hyperbole since it assigns unrighteousness to all wealth even though it only tends to lead there.

Overall this position has merit but I personally think it is incomplete and needs to be expanded by a wider sense of unrighteousness. Simply chalking something up to Jewish exaggeration may miss the fact we are not simply to dismiss hyperbole in Scripture. I have often found that the Jewish hyperbole found in the Scriptures is there for a reason. The usual reason is that we are being asked to consider that the exaggeration may not be a total exaggeration after all and that there is actually more truth than exaggeration in the hyperbole. This notion is developed in the third theory.

3. It refers to the fact that this world is unjust and thus all its wealth has injustice and unrighteousness intrinsically attached. We live in a world in which the distribution of wealth, resources, and money is very uneven and unjust. Now economies around the world are very complicated matters and there may be any number of reasons for this. Some areas of this planet are just more fertile than others; some areas have more oil, etc. There is often a role that corrupt governments play in unjust distribution as well. It is a fact that we are sometimes unable to effectively help the needy in certain countries because corrupt governments and individuals divert what is intended for the poor. But there is just no getting around it: this world has a very unjust and unequal distribution of wealth and resources for any number of reasons. We in America live at the top of the system and cannot totally ignore that our inexpensive goods often are so because workers in other parts of the world earn a mere pittance to manufacture or harvest our cheap goods. Much of the convenience and comforts of our lifestyle are provided by people who earn very little for what they do, often without medical benefits, pensions, and the like.

Now again, economies are very complicated and we may not be able to do a great deal to suddenly change all this. But we ought to at least be aware that we live very well and many others do not, and that our high standard of living is often the result of the cheap labor elsewhere. When I buy a shirt in the air-conditioned store and take it in my air-conditioned car back to my air-conditioned house with its walk-in closet, it ought to occur to me that the person who made and packed this shirt probably doesn’t live nearly as well as I do. And the fact that he earned very little for his work is part of the reason I can buy the shirt for less than $20.

Now I am not calling for boycotts (they probably just hurt the poor anyway), and I am not sure exactly how we got to such inequity in the world. I know it annoys me when some people simply want to blame Americans for every ill there is. There are other factors such as international corruption, bad economic theory, etc. There’s plenty of blame to go around. But the fact is, this world is an unjust place and every bit of wealth we have is somehow tainted by that injustice.

So this final theory is not so quick to call Jesus’ expression “Jewish hyperbole.” Rather it considers as quite real the notion that worldly inequities are so vast and exist on so many levels that all the goods, comforts, and conveniences of this world are tainted, are steeped in unrighteousness and inequity. None of it is clean; none of it is fully righteous. In this sense Jesus rightly calls it “dishonest wealth.”

If that is the case, then what to do? Jesus is not unclear, for he goes on to counsel that we befriend the poor with our “unrighteous mammon,” that we be generous to others who are less fortunate. We who live so well need to remember that the monetary cost of a product may not fully express its true human cost. If we have been blessed (and boy have we been blessed), then we are called to bless others.

A final disclaimer – The questions of poverty and worldwide economies are complicated. I do not propose simple solutions. I am not an economist; I am not a socialist; I am not a communist. I am simply a Christian trying to listen to what Jesus is teaching. I am trying to internalize His teaching that I ought not be so enamored of the wealth of this world. For it is steeped in unrighteousness even if I don’t intend that unrighteousness. I think I hear the Lord saying, “Be on your guard with money and worldly wealth. It’s not as great as you think. In fact, if you don’t learn to be generous, it may well be your undoing.” There is a powerful Scripture addressed to us who have so much. It seems to offer hope for us if we follow its plan. I would like to conclude with it.

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life (1 Tim 6:17-19).

You know I would value your thoughts, distinctions, and additions.

About 20 years ago I toured an old coal mine in Pennsylvania near Scranton. I was amazed at the conditions and hardships the coal miners had to endure. I have often thought of them and that tour when I turn on a light or an appliance since our power plant is fueled by coal. My comfort comes at a higher cost than my bill suggests.

30 Responses

  1. Leticia Velasquez says:

    Whenever I post a reflection about Pope Francis referring to living a simple life and encouraging clergy and laymen to do the same, I catch an awful lot of flack. I have even been unfriended just for suggesting that opulent lifestyles are hardly conducive to evangelization. So I presume that this is an area where my fellow Catholics (and I, trust me this is an area where I struggle to resist the gimme culture) need to grow.
    The most important question to ask oneself is what is first in my life? If I had to live in poverty to remain a faithful Catholic, what would win, comfort or faith? Because that may be what is required of you. And it might not be as bad as you think!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Monsignor, thank you for writing about issues that trouble me. When I shop at Walmart I say a silent prayer for those unknown people who labored in sweatshops so that I could buy cheap stuff.
    I feel (sometimes) a tremendous sense of guilt to have been born a person of enough talent to have gotten ahead in school, and then later in a demanding profession.
    I didn’t deserve my good fortune. It was not natural or inevitable. Later this year I’m going to deed all of my property to my children into an irrevocable trust. It will be like a vow of poverty for me. It just feels necessary, though my attorney is trying to talk me out of it.
    But I don’t know what else I can do to resolve this conflict in my mind. :)

    • Charlie says:

      Please.listen to your attorney.What you plan is not the best for you or your children.Talk this over with trusted friends.Please.

      • Jennifer says:

        Thank you, Charlie. But I have yet another reason to be transferring my properties. I am divorcing a man with severe bipolar mental illness, who keeps trying to sue me for property I obtained even before I met him. It is very scary. The legal system is not set up to protect the interests of innocent parties. Having married such a vicious person causes me tremendous guilt and angst. At least this way I will be able to keep it safe for my children’s benefit, come what may.

        • Bud says:

          Jennifer, I have no revelation on the scripture but it is interesting how quickly you dismiss Charlies’ advise, with yet a second reason for persuading your agenda. We search websites and the scriptures not for truth but for justification for what we wish to do. We avoid the law if it does not suit us and we are even willing to corrupt our children to further our ends. Pershing an unwise course based on personal desire is why you married this viscous person in the first place, most assuredly ignoring wise council of friends and acquaintances.
          It is cute how we offer prayers for WalMart workers to offset our buying there and our other questionable actions.
          The conflict in your mind comes from heart void of Christ. I suspect you will continue bring confusion and hardship to yourself and your children, as most of us do. If we are unwilling to change it, we should at least start to begin to admit it.

  3. Mark O'Neil says:

    The answer to the problem of the evil we see in the world and the world’s economy is to really get a strong grasp of God and God’s economy. Remember the story of the widow’s mite. Jesus saw the wealthy give to The Lord out of their wealth, but the widow gave out of her poverty. Jesus teaches us that in God’s economy the widow’s offering (sacrifice) was significantly greater than all the wealthy people’s offerings. Therefore when thinking about the evils that arise from mammon we need to learn and know God’s economy rather than living according to our own (selfish) or the world’s economy. True wealth is reflecting God’s nature as we were created to do. God has allowed heinous evil (all kinds, including an unjust world sytem/economy) for a short season so that we can learn and experience attributes of God that we would NEVER otherwise know or experience about God such as God’s patience, long-suffering, mercy, sacrifice, loving those who persecute you, turning the other cheek, etc. Furthermore God gives us the opportunity for this short season of evil to share in imitating God’s same good attributes of patience, long-suffering, mercy, sacrifice, and etc. thus we become reflections of God’s nature fulfilling God’s words in Genesis, “In the image of God, God created man”. Without evil being permitted in the world man would never ever have the possibility to know these good and holy attributes of God or be able to reflect them in us either. God has given us a wonderful but brief opportunity during a season of evil to do what the widow did and fully learn and share in God’s economy rather than living according to the world’s economy.

  4. Andy says:

    This is an issue that does trouble many Catholics and probably should trouble more of us, particularly in America. I am drawn to 1 Tim as well when wrestling with this issue:

    “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Tim 6:10)

    This verse is often misquoted as “money is the root of all evil”. What a tremendous difference in the actual verse and the misquote. Money, wealth – mammon in itself is not intrinsically evil. It is how we fallen humans chose to view, value and use mammon. Do we let mammon become a false god, perhaps *choosing* to gather more mammon instead of going to mass? Do we use mammon for charity or for more creature comforts? Do we pray before making a major purchase or investment, asking God to help guide our decision so that it is in concert with His commands to love God and to love our neighbor?

    It sure would be nice if there was a black and white answer to issue of wealth and money. However I do not believe there is such a definitive answer. Have to love that free will God gave us,so we can choose to love Him, or to love money. :-)

  5. Mary Moskowitz says:

    It is good for us to strike a healthy balance. I for one, love to look at a Neiman Marcus catalog on line and admire evening gowns that can cost $10,000 and shoes and bags to complete the outfit costing thousands. Even if I had the money to buy these things (which I do not) I would not spend this kind of money on clothing. Yes, the clothing is beautiful but I could not justify morally spending this kind of money on clothes while others in the world are homeless and walking around without adequate clothing and shoes. I keep in my heart and in my mind what riches are truly important and strike a balance in my purchases. Those who do not have even the basic necessities of life should not be far from our mind. To be truly rich is to be in relationship with God and to serve Him; bringing others to Christ and bringing Christ to others. This is what it means to have a rich life.

    • Shamrock says:

      Mary, you make a good point in that we should try to balance our wants and our needs so that we share
      from not just our abundance but so that the gift to others involves a sacrifice. ( the widow’s mite) I have
      lived a long life and while not wealthy by the world’s standards, I certainly live better than many if not
      most. I have lived long enough to have witnessed several presidencies. If you compare the simple White
      House of the Trumans ( I am not a Democrat) to the current lifestyle of the Obamas, the contrast is very
      striking. I am not intending to malign our current President and his family as in more modern times all Presidents have had extravagant lifestyles and ostentious lives. Does this reflect our current culture or
      visa versa? At any rate, we are reminded to re-examine our own lifestyles and charitable acts.

  6. one anonymous says:

    Oh Monsignor, there seems to be so much confusion about wealth, what God gives us to help us and others and what we gain in this world to only satisfy our endless desires. And I am so happy you are not an economist, socialist or communist, thank God for that, for we could all be who knows what if not for the Grace of God, but instead we are His, His beloved children! I can only think of a large and beautiful tree with its branches stretching way out over the ground, and it has grown its roots in every direction to entwine and grasp every stone and boulder it can as it grows. But I have seen that tree fall roots and all, when the days are full of rain and the wind blows whipping its branches, And I have looked at the great fall of it as it will even take out other trees around it as it topples to the ground and its roots are exposed still fatally clinging to those stones and boulders. I’m sure you understand the analogy. And I have seen large and beautiful trees that look just the same with their branches stretched out but they don’t fall in the soggy soil when the wind blows because their roots grow deep to reach the Living Waters that flow beneath. And these trees give year after year to the birds a nest and the squirrels food and shelter and to us a shady place to rest and contemplate the miracles of God’s creation. I know God uses His trees to tell us something all throughout the Bible.

  7. Donna L. says:

    Judging from the comments, this is an area where most American Christians struggle. Even our poor have so much compared to the rest of the world!

    I took the time to read all of Luke 16, from where the term “unrighteous mammon” comes from. Jesus was talking to his disciples about stewardship and service. He is telling us that we cannot have two masters – we have to chose which master we will serve. Most of us try to serve two masters, but “Mammon” is the unrighteous master – and oh, how we love to serve him!! Elsewhere, we read that wealth is “deceptive” (Mark 4:19). In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus teaches us that riches will actually choke out our fruitfulness.

    So, to which master will we be faithful? We own nothing. All belongs to God. Our riches have been entrusted to us. Can He trust us with them? I admit, that I am concerned for my own soul here… like many Americans I have been blessed with much. In my humble opinion, the scriptures ARE black and white when it comes to wealth. Jesus warned us about Lazarus and the rich man. He points out that the rich man wore fine clothes and ate sumptuously, and that he was indifferent to the unfortunate man right outside his door. He ended up in hell for it. Sadly, this is a picture of many of us.

    James:1-3 -Woe to the rich man. Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
    Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

    The apostle warns us with the most serious of words… Lord, help us to be faithful stewards, and let us not be deceived!

  8. Artfldgr says:

    The points made around wealth are dominated by socialist arguments today…

    if you want to understand money and wealth as the bible has it, you just have to realize that money is a tool.
    the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. dishonest wealth, is misusing the tool. which is what all the angles in the examples try to win to one meaning in a world where multiple perspectives are required to understand something, as nothing is one sided in a 3 dimensional world.

    money is a tool, a storage tank for the conversion of labor into a means of exchange.
    that is ALL that it is… we would easily see that falling in love with a screwdriver would lead to bad
    well, falling in love with any tool is not good…

    we want to treat money as some special thing…
    and all they are saying in the bible is that powerful tools affect the user
    in fact all tools do… ever hear “if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”?

    when people try to give this wealth is evil thing a turn in their heads, trying to simplify a complicated world and remove distinction… (a catechism for the stupid), they have to specifically ignore other examples…

    The three servants and the Talents?

    how could and why would god give his most blessed servants toxic waste to deal with if money was special?
    what are you missing in your arguments that allow you to split the reality into multiple views so that one can ignore that gods blessings are wealth.

    ie. list out the blessings that god bestows on his favored…

    wealth
    family
    friends
    public regard
    and so on

    ALL are wealth… all are rewards that god supposedly bestows on us
    but wealth is a burden too… how much can you carry?

    dishonest wealth is the acquisition of those things by other means…
    ie the reward taken for nothing

    its not harder than that… but i see people making it all kinds of hard because they are so used to post modern deconstruction and reformation of meaning to whatever, that they cant get that this stuff is deep cause its simple, and easy to understand…

    ie. you can be too smart to understand the simple…

    what your looking at in this mamon thing is the difference between a man or woman that has a happy family all working hard, no one stealing all healthy and together as a group..

    you dont have to steal to acquire wealth to have it be bad..
    you can ignore your parents and work too hard, and so you earn more, but forget to honor them.

    funny thing i find about the devout… they cant follow the whole of their desire so they try to do it in pieces.
    and while they are busy focusing on one thing, they forget the entirety of the others things. that also inform.

    ie. you like to look at the bigger greater evil that is easy to delineate… and so easy to avoid and easy to say what a good boy or girl am i… but its the more subtle evil that CS lewis realized and spoke of.

    ie. doesnt god come as a mustard seed?

    do you think evil outside of literature has a dominant form in big things?
    or is it sufficient enough to ignore your family while thinking your doing them better by getting more?

    by far, the more commonly damned are the people who miss this small boring average aspect of it all
    evil is banal…

    • I have trouble understanding your point for you write in a kind of stream of consc. Manner. But you seem troubled by what I have written despite disclaimers in the article. Why are you troubled. I am not a socialist neither is Jesus. But his words must not be set aside, he is the Lord. They must be considered and pondered, they must provide a basis for repentance where needed. But they ought not be dismissed or ignored

      • John Anthony Ruffle says:

        Bless you, I feel your struggle, and indeed to enter the Kingdom of God takes internal struggle, as we discern and seek to love-out Kingdom values, (and not just selected Bible verses, as some Pentecostals in particular tend to do). Father has posted a clear and transparent take on Scripture on this issue, but I understand the struggle. I was deceived by so called “prosperity gospel” before I because a Catholic. Prosperity teaching tends to neglect the basic taintedness of this world system. Father addressesthis in his blog. I know prosperity teaching was not specifically mentioned, but I raise it because many Catholics are being drawn away from simple, Christry devotion due to the attraction of such error.

      • Artfldgr says:

        sorry, i am at work, and am not free to compose better…
        however, i am also in academia… where many with religious beliefs, tie such things together.
        but my comment on socialism dominating, did not imply what you said was part of that.
        though i will admit that often i wish i could communicate better…

        so regardless of the arguments, its which arguments that dominate in the outside that have the most effect, not the arguments here where the numbers are a more rarefied few. and thats where i was commenting on.

        i guess i could have said, we make a simple thing overly complicated…
        ie. money is a tool, you don’t love tools, and you don’t misuse them…

        why am i troubled? you mean the current zeitgeist? the current knowledge that is not knowledge?
        the general lack of respect, the willingness to petition Caesar to hurt others for personal benefit, and so on..

        my family went through a lot of whats happening now, by other names…
        same methods, different rate, same goals, and so on..

        but then again… didn’t god say that in Ecclesiastes? everything under the sun?

        i do ponder… and i tend to try to connect that pondering to the whole, not just the convenient cases, of which i notice so many doing… does that make me devout? not really… but it sure shows the lack of it in others that claim so… (not talking about people here of which i know little and have not met them nor had the pleasure of conversation yet. and do appreciate your response and candor)

        i also like to ponder the abstractions and how they apply, even if they are not easily seen.

        take for instance… a friend who has endeavored to learn greek to get closer to the bible.
        however, he and i for a long time debated, with his idea being jesus was a socialist and ignoring the financial advice and other stuff in the bible..

        i said, you will not get closer to god by learning greek if you dont get the message in your native tongue.
        you will not catch a erroneous translation, for you wont understand either…

        this in the abstract is the idea that you cant help your brother unless you first remove the board from your own eyes… you cant follow god in a non native tongue you practice as a hobby if you do not grasp its concepts at least in part in your own tongue.

        i am sorry if i offended… and sorry my talk is stream of c…
        i just wanted to join in and add a bit…

        oh… i should say that this was the first piece here that caught me as it was topical to the socialist christian who uses that as a way to fit in in academia without actually being bothered or harmed in career and life (As i have, though not for Christianity, but for other social justice and things similar to back in the old country).

        i think if i had the time, i could have done better.
        but i didn’t, and couldn’t, and am sorry…

        though maybe i will try again in the near future… :)

  9. Kellie says:

    The translation “dishonest wealth” has struck me as a warning about how wealth lies to us: it can give us a false sense of security, complacency, self-sufficiency (as if we do not need or depend on God), radical autonomy (I have the power to do whatever I like).

    If we succumb to such flattery, so to speak, we lose perspective that this life is fleeting, and our only true happiness and security are found in God.

    • Kathleen says:

      Excellent insight, Kellie! Mammon was portrayed in medieval art as a person, and yes, he lies.

    • Artfldgr says:

      Nice idea..

      but if you understand the nature of tools and matter, nothing does those things, and so money a tool, cant do those things. understanding the nature of something rather than make it something that its not, is key to working with it.

      take the quote about the camel and the needle…

      And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God

      We would say that the statement is a sarcasm as to what is possible..

      however, whats missing from the equation that makes all things possible, and so does not negate the talents, Moses, and other things i can list…

      he said a rich man, not a rich man with god…
      god is out of the picture, and in the past, the absence begs the attention

      (though we are not that well with book writing as we used to be, just compare Shakespeare, who wrote for the common man of his day, with today’s 5th grade average, which was an 8th grade average when i was a kid and was reading Fenimore cooper, which was originally young persons writing which averages out to 13th grade)

      to me its making a puzzle out of something simple..

      your correct, wealth gives us a false sense of security, because of magical thinking.
      ie. wealth CAN increase security, if spent on that, but in and of itself, the tool does nothing.

      this does not stop lottery buyers spending too much of what they want to get more of what they have!
      neither does the fact that most become miserable and lose it when they win, becuase they do not think of money as a tool.

      money is a tool like fire…
      bestowed on us
      but the best tools are never purely good or beneficient

      the knife? it cuts both ways..
      fire? is alive and has a mind of its own as it seeks to live, expand, and not die out
      money? can change how the user thinks and behaves, because they do it to themselves.
      weapons? can protect, or harm, either way…
      but existence of one half (harm) necessitates the other (protection)

      ALL the most useful tools have this duality that can bring something forwards.

      even god could not create a corporal reality without the duality that comes from separating nothing into two halves. i guess to say it the way Matthew might, and hopefully not get baked for it, would be to say, god did not make any one sided coins…

      i will say that maybe security is found in God, but not necessarily happiness..
      its god plan, not ours, and the plan, given my ancestors, did not include happiness

      even the happiness in the constitution is not our own, but is sound economic advice…
      to be free and healthy and economically ok, you do not pursue your own happiness.
      you pursue and provide others with theirs.

      why does an actor make millions while a school teacher does not?

      because that person can make a million people happy in one day…
      [the difference between happy and what they provide is another thing...]

      a magician is an honest con artist…
      maybe a fitting illustration of honest wealth vs dishonest wealth using the same talents!!!!

      a con artist has the skills to trick others…
      they do so and they take what rewards you have from you.
      they are people who seek dishonest wealth

      a magician, has the same skills, and often has them to a higher level.
      he says, i am going to trick you. but i wont take what you are not willing to GIVE FREELY
      he tells you that for a fee, he will trick you and take your money, and make you happy
      he wont do it without your permission… and he wont take more than agreed

      its in this that I personally see the difference.
      same skills, same goal, but one goes to jail and is hated, the other earns a honest living and is loved.
      money was the same
      the people being tricked could be the same

      but one did not misuse the tools to gain a tool to misuse…

      if i am too confusing, this will be my last post…
      thank you all for your patience…

  10. Theophilus2 says:

    I think it ‘unrighteous’ to place our trust in Mammon. I am poor and fully dependent on God’s providence in all things. I am grateful and give Him thanks in all things. This is most important, for me, to be thankful and content. Our Lord says “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” I know many poor who are plagued by greed and also rich who are good stewards of God’s gifts. But rich or poor, we should never cease giving our Lord thanks and praise as we live, stewards of His gifts.

    All things in Christ

  11. RichardGTC says:

    I greatly enjoyed reading this post as I had never noticed that two word phrase before nor had anyone else drawn my attention to it. Thanks. My read is different than all three readings offered, though closest to number three. With most things what you see is what you get. For example: an orange tree. Someone sees an orange tree and and, if he has a yard, thinks “Oh, maybe I will plant an orange and get oranges and enjoy looking at and caring for my orange tree.” Money is not like. Money discloses the longings of the heart.–and most people who read and write blogs like this one recall the bible verses about the tortuous nature of the human heart. Our sinner condition is reflected in “dishonest wealth”.

    Great song/video. The great English actor, Richard Burton, was the son of and brother to Welsh coal miners. Some people may enjoy his account of being a Welsh coal miner, as he related it to Dick Cavett: Richard Burton on mining. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkddEkM7FQw Listening to Burton’s account, I’d expect that the Welsh coal miner would either pity or laugh at people who read and write blog’s like this one.

  12. Bill says:

    My but this is depressing, and terrifying. What are we to do? Forsake everything, become poor, and then starve and freeze? Does anyone make it into heaven?

  13. esiul says:

    What really bothers me for quite a while now are those McMansions people live in.
    Often only two people reside in these structures. I refer to this as “sinful living”.

    • Jennifer says:

      My children and I are moving out of our McMansion into a smaller rental property. We will rent out the McMansion, at a profit no less, since so many people want to live that way. I’ve always hated that house…it’s too darn big and it’s expensive to boot.

  14. Heidi keene says:

    In Luke 16, “unrighteous mammon” refers to the church’s doctrine of indulgences. Catholics, like the steward, have access to the Church’s riches which derive infinite graces” of Christ’s pasch, the “innumerable” graces of the Blessed Virgin, and the “immeasurable” graces from the saints through the ages. In short, we have access to infinite, innumerable and immeasurable spiritual wealth (CCC). This parable teaches us that the Lord wants us to “steal” from this bank account and use it to pay off his debtors (souls in purgatory). In doing this, our Master will praise us “The master commended the dishonest steward for his shrewdness”. And we will have made friends for ourselves who will be there when “ours fails” (death) to welcome us into “eternal dwellings” (literally eternal tabernacles!)

    Just last Sunday werent we exhorted by St Paul to take our eyes off the ground and look UP to what really matters? Spiritual wealth!

    • Artfldgr says:

      what a GREAT comment

      which is why Moses got his McMansion and had gods rewards
      he chose spiritual wealth without pharaohs family over what kind of wealth?
      and yet, it led to what? another pile of wealth…
      however, not tainted or given, but earned…

      we used to understand this to the point where young men would refuse their fathers wealth
      and go out and make their own and earn it…

  15. DWiss says:

    Like everyone else who posted here I struggle with what I have versus what I need. It’s easy to become spoiled and “need” quite a bit.

    But, from what I can see in my own community and beyond, poverty is not a direct route to heaven either. Many is the temptation to emerge from poverty in evil ways.

    Whatever our lot in life, we’ll struggle to find the way that Jesus marked for us.

  16. Heidi says:

    The problem is not wealth or money per se.
    Here’s the spiritual theology:
    3 fold concupiscence: lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, pride of life.
    These were and are the only ways the devil can tempt mankind. Look at the temptation of Christ and you will see precisely these three.

    These 3 sins give birth to 7 ugly offspring:

    Lust of the eyes: greed, envy, wrath
    Lust of the flesh: lust, gluttony, sloth
    Pride of life: pride

    Each has its own spiritiual consequence but unique to all of them is that the consequence for the sin of greed (avarice) is hatred of God.

    Therefore, one caught in the net of this particular sin isnt likely to call out, “Abba! Father! Save me!”…and thus in in grave danger (no pun intended) of spiritual death.

    With this in mind, it is easier to understand why Our Lord cautions-on so many occasions-against building up temporal wealth.

  17. [...] As to what the Lord means by “dishonest wealth”, read here: What does the Lord mean by “Unrighteous Mammon” [...]

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