First Reading: 1 Timothy 6:2C-12
Beloved: Teach and urge these things. Whoever teaches something different and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the religious teaching is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes. From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions, and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds, who are deprived of the truth, supposing religion to be a means of gain. Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it. If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that. Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains. But you, man of God, avoid all this. Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 49:6-7, 8-10, 17-18, 19-20
Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs. Why should I fear in evil days when my wicked ensnarers ring me round? They trust in their wealth; the abundance of their riches is their boast. Yet in no way can a man redeem himself, or pay his own ransom to God; Too high is the price to redeem one’s life; he would never have enough to remain alive always and not see destruction. Fear not when a man grows rich, when the wealth of his house becomes great, For when he dies, he shall take none of it; his wealth shall not follow him down. Though in his lifetime he counted himself blessed, “They will praise you for doing well for yourself,” He shall join the circle of his forebears who shall never more see light.
Gospel: Luke 8:1-3
Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.
Over and over again, sacred Scripture makes the connection between our finances and our spiritual life abundantly clear. It is obvious that our Father knows our hearts and how easily they are led astray. For myself (and I suspect for most people), this fox is a wily one. Perhaps like you, I’m not interested in being rich; I just want to pay my bills and put food on the table for my family. And maybe buy a new couch. And maybe a new dress for that next wedding on the calendar. And maybe splurge for a babysitter once in awhile. And maybe, and maybe, and maybe.
It’s hard to navigate an issue so muddled and variable. But one thing’s for sure: when Saint Paul writes that the love of money has caused some to stray from the faith, he’s surely not just talking about the wealthy. Sometimes those of us who experience a lack have more sinful hearts than those who have the most. It’s not about the amount of money we have, it’s about whether the desire for it consumes us. “Religion with contentment is indeed a great gain,” but note that he says only religion with contentment.
I may not have much control over the amount of money my household brings in, but I do have control over the posture of my heart before Christ. There have been seasons of my life when I have enjoyed a comfortable financial situation. There have been other seasons when I had to count every penny. I am convinced that from Heaven’s perspective, the only thing that mattered during either season was whether I was living a life of trust, generosity, contentment, and humility. The prayer of my heart is that whether in poverty or in riches, Jesus would find me poor in spirit.