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A Meditation on the Poverty of Riches, as Seen in a Video

September 26, 2018 4 Comments

At Mass for Wednesday of the 25th Week of the Year, we read this passage:

Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me [only] with food that I need for today: Lest I be full, and deny you, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. (Proverbs 30:9-10).

One of the great problems of our time is satiation. Because of our own inordinate drives, we accumulate and indulge beyond reason. Filled, we have little room for God or others for that matter.

The more affluent we become in material things, the more spiritually poor we seem to become. The higher our standard of living, the lower our overall morals. The more filled our coffers, the emptier our churches. The numbers demonstrate clearly show that over the past 60 years our standard of living has risen while church attendance and other signs of belief and spirituality have plummeted—so has family time and the developing of deep human relationships. Marriage rates have plummeted while divorce has soared. Birthrates are down. Children are considered a burden in a satiated world with a high standard of living. These are the evils of our times.

It isn’t just wealth, either; it’s all the things that distract and divert us. There are so many pleasures available to us, most of them lawful, but often it’s just too much of a good thing.

One might imagine another scenario in which we were astonished by God’s providence and fell to our knees in gratitude; in our riches and possession of so many good things we prayed and went to Mass even more often out of sheer gratefulness. Alas this is seldom the case today.

Our affluence creates the illusion of self-sufficiency and self-fulfillment.

St. Augustine sadly noted, in a time far less satiated than our own, I, unlovely, rushed heedlessly among the things of beauty You made. You were with me, but I was not with You. Those things kept me far from You, which, unless they were in You, would not be (Confessions 10.27).

Many other Scriptures warn of the spiritual danger posed by wealth and worldly satiation:

  • But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs (1 Tim 6:9-10).
  • No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money! (Luke 16:13)
  • But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep (Luke 6:24-25).
  • But many that are first will be last, and the last first (Mat 19:30).
  • How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God … It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Mk 10:23-25).

It is amazing that despite all of this most of us still want to be rich and would jump for joy if we won the lottery; instead we should soberly cringe with fear and look for good ways to shed our excess.

Alas, this is the human condition, or at least the fallen version of it. It isn’t very pretty and is proof positive that we are going to need a lot of grace and mercy to get home.

Think of that this as you watch this video. It’s a stark portrait of modern man. Consider how full, yet lonely, the man in the video is. He speaks only of himself and seems to interact with almost no one. He’s lost in a self-referential world of excess, filled with every good thing, but too full for God. Somehow the man knows that the worldly things fill him for only a moment and then pass, but still the answer is more! It’s quite a commentary on too many of us today.

As the Proverb says, he is rich and says, “Who is the Lord?”

Filed in: Moral Life, videos • Tags: ,

Comments (4)

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  1. Adam says:

    Father,

    I really enjoy and appreciate your writings, so please don’t take this the wrong way. It really irks me to keep hearing that people have stopped attending church as if to imply it was initiated by them, and the following moral decline ensued.

    I think many people stopped attending because the church has become so mushy and effeminate over the decades. I personally cannot stand listening to weak, effeminate priests, and also liberal priests. There’s clapping and weird hippy music during masses, and heterodox priests saying things like “Sisters and Brothers…”

    Recently, I am appalled at the complete lack of outrage by the hierarchy over all the new sexual scandals. Jesus was flipping tables in the temple in righteous anger (and even had a whip). The bishops I’ve seen on the news and EWTN are all very reserved and apologetic and sad, and it’s incredible there’s no angry outrage.

    This is my opinion of why attendance is down. If the priests don’t act like they believe, then how is that received by the laity? People aren’t stupid, and they see the disconnect. It affects their level of taking God seriously when the vicars of Christ don’t.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

    -Adam

  2. Tim says:

    I am more like saint Peter. Lord where will we go for you have the Word of eternal life. The Eucharist is my core and the other stuff are superficial. I just keep my eyes on the crucified Lord.

    I try my best to do the reading prior to mass or listen to my laudate app or other various resources readily available to me. Man up

  3. Israel B says:

    Msgr. Pope, you are spot-on as always. The Enemy can’t lead us to ruin by out-shining the Beauty and Love of God. He must obscure the Light and manufacture many, many false lights.

    Thank you for cleansing my proverbial mental palate today. It is nearly impossible to stay true and “on course” in our modern society.

    Jesus, Mary and Joseph, bring us through this dark fog and into the Peace of your home. Amen.

  4. Stanley says:

    Thanks father for your wonderful reflection. With my little knowledge of church history, I have come to understand that materialism (worldliness) and lukewarmness are the two deadliest enemies of the Faith. These two wreck more havoc in the Church than the worst of persecutions. Whenever Christians, be it the clergy or lay faithful, abondon the way of the cross to seek wordly pleasures, zeal diapers, devotion is gone and lukewarmness sets in to complete the shipwreck before we start asking questions like “How on earth did we get this low? ” Secondly as a response to Adam, I will say that ever society will get type of priest that they merit and deserve. A worldly minded society will definitely have at least a great number of worldly minded priests, a liberal society were majority voted for the legalization of abortion and homosexual unions will definitely have liberal priests. Priests don’t fall from the heavens,they are the products of our families and societies.

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