Sunday, October 14, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

What makes a person wealthy? Money? Material possessions? Accumulations? In today’s Gospel, the rich young man has all of these things. He even has a "good deeds list," his accumulation of "brownie points." But he asks of Jesus a question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus tells him to give up all of his possessions. The man couldn’t accept this answer. He walked away very sad for he was very rich.

What was Jesus saying? Is money bad? Are possessions evil? Is someone wrong for accumulating wealth of any kind? The answer is simply: NO! and YES! It’s not that possessions and wealth are wrong in themselves — it isn’t wrong for someone to possess them —  the question always comes down to this: Do we own the possessions, or do the possession own us? Just how tied to possessions do we become? Just how much do we depend upon them and think that they alone will protect us, keep us safe, give us absolute power over our lives?

The truth is that they can ensnare us. They can become an illusion. They can bind us so much that wealth becomes more important than people. Instead of money serving us and our needs, we can end up serving money. Ironically, the dollar bill has this phrase stamped upon it: “In God We trust.” The more of these dollar bills we get the more we can begin to believe although we would never say it out loud — “In Money We Trust.”

Is money evil? No. But a piece of paper can change hearts and minds and attitudes and lives. Indeed, “how difficult it is for someone who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.

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