We have an oft heard Gospel reading today: one that makes many people roll their eyes. People roll their eyes not only because of the familiarity of these verses, but because of the seeming impossibility of Jesus' demands. And certainly these verses have been taken, not only literally, but to their extreme, making the eye roll all that much more easy.
What I think Jesus is talking about when he says You cannot serve God and wealth, is that money, wealth, has the power to overwhelm us. The desire to succeed, obtain material things, live in ways that are beyond our necessity, has a way of corrupting us, has a way of altering our priorities, skewing them and ultimately perverting them.
If we are focused on wealth, we are focused on ourselves. That selfishness narrows our focus away from that which Jesus is directing us: the building of the kingdom of God. That kingdom has at its root an unselfishness that is the polar opposite of what wealth represents. I do not believe Jesus is condemning all those who have wealth. I believe Jesus is asking, by saying what he does, what is our focus? What is our purpose in pursuing wealth? And what do we do with that wealth once we have attained it?
We have a slippery slope theory here. A slope, that we do not have to slide down, given the right focus, the right center for our existence.
Copyright 2009, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.