November 5, 2011 - Saturday of the Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

You cannot serve God and Mammon. If you love Mammon you will hate God. God is always telling us to give all our money to the poor. He calls money worthless when he says to return it to Caesar. He tells his disciples to not carry a moneybag when he sends them out. If you love God, you will hate Mammon. A saint might use money to get something done, but the idea of collecting the stuff, working to pile up the stuff, is just silly. Money might be a necessary evil, but to desire wealth for its own sake is just ridiculous.

You cannot serve God and Mammon. If you attend to Mammon, you will neglect God. Even in prayer you will be thinking about how you can get more money, so who are you really praying to? If you attend to God, you will neglect Mammon, even at work you will try to be a better person, so who are you really working for? If you attend to Mammon, you will neglect God. You will work on Sunday, not because you might starve otherwise nor because your work is a necessary part of society but for the money. If you attend to God, you will neglect Mammon. You will be too busy loving your neighbor to consider how they might be profitable to you.

“No servant can serve two masters.” Instead of the usual word for servant, Jesus uses a word that implies that the servant is to some extent part of the family. I did not have any servants growing up, but I think of Alice on the Brady Bunch or Jeeves from Jeeves and Wooster or some of the other servants in books who form an essential part of the household. A farm hand might do a little work here and little work there, but a household servant cannot so easily divide their loyalties.

We belong to the household of God. In another place Jesus calls us “the adopted sons and daughters of God”, and our loyalty is called “love”; here Jesus calls us “housemates” and calls the loyalty “service”, but both images express the same idea: God is bringing us into his family. We stand outside in a dark, cold world. Mammon beckons, offering small, temporary comforts; God invites, offering warmth and light and a place to live. Above all, God offers a family to join. We have to choose.