Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Matthew 6: 19-24
Reflection – Well, I’m back from my week in Quebec at the Nazareth family apostolate’s summer camp. As always, it was very blessed, very beautiful, very fun… and very exhausting! So I will write a bit shorter today, recharge with the Lord in poustinia tomorrow, and return to my regular blogging pattern Tuesday onwards.
The light of faith here shines into an area of our hearts that is touchy, to say the least. At camp last week one of the men pointed out in the context of a discussion among the men about sexual purity and the healing of lust that Christian men in particular can miss the boat sometimes by being so focused on struggle with sexual temptations and sins that, once a basic order has been put into our lives in that area we can think we are home free—no more serious moral issues to deal with, yahoo!
Well, lust is one of a set of seven, right? And anger, envy, pride, sloth, and gluttony all can wreak havoc in our lives in their own ways. And… let’s see, let me count… one’s still missing… which is it…
Oh yeah. Avarice. Yeah, that one is not exactly unknown in our world today. Serving money and not God, in other words. Deciding that happiness comes from security in material goods and that the primary path to that happiness is storing up of treasure on earth.
Not exactly unknown in our world today. We think of avarice in caricature terms, Scrooge McDuck cackling (quackling?) on a pile of gold, but really its manifestations are a lot more subtle and varied than that. Not every angry person is the incredible Hulk, not every lustful person is Casanova, not every glutton is that exploding man in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life (‘care for an after dinner mint?’… (if you don’t know what I’m referring to—good for you!))
And avarice is also much more quiet and pervasive in its effects. It is the privileging of financial security over faith, hope, and love. It is falling into anxiety about the future based on whether we have enough goods to meet its challenges. It is valuing things over people, but above all about giving way to despondency or fear or anger because we have not secured ourselves in the goods of this earth.
All of this is avarice, and all of this is essentially worshipping a false god. We cannot serve two masters. Our true future is secured not by money, but by God. Our true wealth is not the goods we draw in to ourselves, but the love we pour out from ourselves into the world. God takes care of his people, and so we don’t have to hoard.