The author of our first reading from Proverbs say, “give me neither poverty nor riches.” I think I could say most of us are more frightened of poverty than we are of riches. We would all probably say that being rich doesn’t seem to be too scary at all. Each one of us could use a little more extra in our income; it would be nice not having to scrimp; maybe we would buy a new car or put down a payment on that house we’ve been dreaming about, or we’d like to plan a nice vacation somewhere
As we continue hearing from Luke we’ll hear more criticisms from Jesus about the dangers of wealth. It may not seem obvious at first but go back later a re-read the gospel for today. Jesus is not saying to the apostles to do without necessities. He’s instructing them to be careful in their attitude toward excess. We all have some experience with this when we are preparing for a trip and seem to pack in excess. Four bags for a two-day trip to visit family somewhere? Really? I’ve seen it and maybe you have too.
The author of Proverbs has an even-handed approach. He seems to say if I am liable to ignore God and say to myself, I guess I’m in charge; I don’t need anyone else. I may not even need God since I am able to provide for my own security. On the other hand, he says: “If I have too little, there is real danger that I will at desire too strongly after what I do not have or, even worse, give in to dishonesty and theft as a means to get more.”
That about sums things up, doesn’t it? Almost daily we can turn on the television and see dangers of both poverty and wealth. Overall, the dangers related to not having material things come from our attitude, our desires, not from the things themselves. Nothing God has made is evil (Gen 1:31).
Elsewhere in the Gospel Jesus tells us to have the right priorities, to set our thoughts on the kingdom of God, and all the things we need will come our way. Not to be swept up in the way of enjoyment of wealth and what it brings, not to be saddened by the fact that we do not have these things, this is the ideal. Now, don’t go out and say that the deacon told us that money is bad. Rather, it is the focus on God and the balance of things in life that we should be attentive. It really comes down to peace and justice.
Lord, help us to use your world well for your glory, the necessities of family, and for the good of the less fortunate. Amen.