WHAT is the big problem of the rich? Christ spelled it out when he said, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mt 19, 24)
The big problem of the rich, in short, is his attachment to his wealth such that he cannot give himself fully to God. He may give the appearance that he is giving a lot, but if it is not the whole of himself, then it is not total self-giving which God deserves and expects from each one of us.
Let us always remember that God wants the whole of ourselves. He wants our entire heart, not a divided heart. He wants to be everything to us, the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega. He wants to be given priority over everything else, including our own life.
This is not selfishness on his part, an act of ego-tripping. It is simply in recognition of the basic truth that everything, including our life, comes from him and also belongs to him. We have no right whatsoever to expropriate as our own what actually comes and belongs to God.
We need to understand that our intelligence and will, our freedom and rights that enable us to be and to do what we want, and to be rich in many ways, also come from God and belong to him. They can only be properly exercised when used in accord with God’s will and ways.
And to be rich here does not mean only those with a lot of money and resources. It can mean those who are well-endowed in the other aspects of life — power, fame, health, intelligence, luck, etc.
We need to remind ourselves constantly that even if we can say we are the owners of such wealth, resources, talents, power, fame, and indeed of our whole life, we actually are at best only stewards who have to give account to the absolute owner of all these things that we possess.
We have to continually fight against the tendency and the constant temptation to think that all these things are simply are own, that we are their absolute owners. This is not going to be easy, of course, because even within ourselves we have the villain that will always push us to think that way.
That is why we really would need to make use of strong and constant measures to see to it that we are properly detached from whatever form of human and worldly wealth we can own and possess in this life.
It is not that we avoid acquiring wealth in this life. The acquisition of wealth can be an expression of the productivity and fruitfulness that is also expected of us. But we need to always rectify our intentions, seeing to it that everything we do in this department is always for the glory of God and for the common good of the people.
This should be shown in the way we live our life that should be marked by the qualities of simplicity, austerity, humility, generosity, magnanimity, honesty, integrity, etc.
We need to be spiritually strong and tough such that we would be willing to lose everything that we may have acquired with great effort in just an instant. We have to constantly remind ourselves that with God we would already have everything. “Solo Dios basta,” as St. Teresa used to say.
Let us never forget that wealth in whatever form, if not related to God, is the worst corrupting agent we can have in life. Everyday, we should devise a plan of protecting ourselves from the strong attraction of wealth that would take us away from God and from others.
Fr. Roy Cimagala is the Chaplain of the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise, Talamban, Cebu City ([email protected]/PN)