St Matthew and Worldly Wealth

The billionaire? – He inherited a company from his father and he married money. They have a condo in the Bahamas and a penthouse in Manhattan. They fly first class and mix with the top set. Mr White has set up a charitable foundation and uses his contacts to raise money to help fund worthy causes. He contributes millions to the foundation himself and gives to many other charities. The millions he donates amount to .2% of his income. Is Mr White rich?

4. Mr Brown is unemployed. He lives with his mother who is disabled. They are on food stamps and benefits. They both attend their local Baptist church where Mr Brown mows the lawn and does odd jobs and gets paid $200.00 a week in cash by the pastor. Mr Brown teaches the fifth grade Sunday School class and every Sunday he puts $20.00 in the collection because his Daddy taught him to tithe 10% to the Lord. Is Mr Brown rich?

I make a distinction between “rich” and “prosperous”. A “rich” person focuses on wealth and power, prestige and privilege and it is all about him. Therefore it is hard for a rich person to enter into heaven. A “prosperous” person focuses on others, considers what wealth he has to be an abundant blessing from God and is generous with the wealth he has because he knows he can’t keep it anyway.  The prosperous person can therefore be wealthy financially but also “poor in spirit”. Remember money is not the root of all evil, it is the love of money which is the root of all evil.

While not judging the rich, we should also not judge the poor–neither despising them nor glorifying them. There is nothing glorious or noble about poverty. We should get over this Catholic worship of poverty. Poverty is not a virtue. Some religious take a vow of poverty in order to be an example to all of us about the proper attitude to wealth, but poverty for its own sake is not a good thing, neither are poor people virtuous just because they are poor.  Poor people can be greedy, dishonest, bitter and envious. It is the poor in spirit who are blessed.

We all have the tendency to judge others according to their wealth or lack of it. We should forget about it and mind our own business because, unless we are their accountant we don’t really know how much they have and what they do with it.  We should work quietly, honestly and hard then follow Charles Wesley’s advice on money management: “Earn as much as you can, save as much as you can, give as much as you can.”

Oh, and on St Matthew’s feast day we should remember what he did with his wealth. He gave it all up and became an apostle and ended up a martyr. If have any further questions, refer to St Matthew…

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