Pope Francis Warns of Covetousness "Because material goods, money, riches, can become a cult, a true and proper idolatry." FULL TEXT
Saint Peter's Square - Sunday, 31 July 2022
Dear brothers and sisters, buongiorno!
In the Gospel of today’s liturgy, a man makes this request of Jesus: “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (Lk 12:13).
This is a very common situation. Similar problems are still commonplace. How many brothers and sisters, how many members of the same family, unfortunately quarrel over their inheritance, perhaps no longer speaking to each other!
Responding to the man, Jesus does not enter into the particulars, but goes to the root of the divisions caused by the possession of things. He says clearly: “Be on your guard against all covetousness” (v. 15). “Be on your guard against all covetousness”. What is covetousness? It is the unbridled greed for possessions, always desiring to be rich. This is an illness that destroys people, because the hunger for possessions creates an addiction. Above all, those who have a lot are never content, they always want more, and only for themselves. But this way, the person is no longer free: he or she is attached to, a slave, of what paradoxically was meant to serve them so as to live freely and serenely. Rather than being served by money, the person becomes a servant of money. Covetousness is a dangerous illness for society as well – due to covetousness, we have today reached other paradoxes: an injustice never before seen in history, where few have so much and so many have little or nothing. Let’s consider wars and conflicts as well. The lust for resources and wealth are almost always behind them. How many interests are behind war! Certainly, one of these is the arms trade. This trade is a scandal that we must never resign ourselves to.
Today, Jesus teaches us that at the heart of all this are not only some who are powerful, or certain economic systems. The covetousness that is in everyone’s heart is at the centre. And so, let us try to ask ourselves: Where am I at with my detachment from possessions, from wealth? Do I complain about what I lack, or do I know how to be content with what I have? In the name of money or opportunity, am I tempted to sacrifice relationships and sacrifice time with others? And yet again, does it happen that I sacrifice legality and honesty on the altar of covetousness? I said “altar”, the altar of covetousness, but why did I say altar? Because material goods, money, riches, can become a cult, a true and proper idolatry. This is why Jesus warns us with strong words. He says, you cannot serve two masters, and – let’s be careful – he does not say God and the devil, no, or even the good and the bad, but, God and wealth (cf. Lk 16:13). One would expect that he would have said that you cannot serve two masters, God and the devil, no: God and wealth. That wealth be at our service, yes; to serve wealth, no – that is idolatry, that is an offense to God.
And so, we might think, so, no one should desire to get rich? Certainly, you can; rather, it is right to want it. It is beautiful to become rich, but rich according to God! God is the richest of anyone. He is rich in compassion, in mercy. His riches do not impoverish anyone, do not create quarrels and divisions. It is a richness that knows how to give, to distribute, to share. Brothers and sisters, accumulating material goods is not enough to live well, for Jesus says also that life does not consist in what one possesses (see Lk 12:15). It depends, instead, on good relationships – with God, with others, and even with those who have less. So, let us ask ourselves: For myself, how do I want to get rich? Do I want to get rich according to God or according to my covetousness? And, returning to the topic of inheritance, what legacy do I want to leave? Money in the bank, material things, or happy people around me, good works that are not forgotten, people that I have helped to grow and mature?
May Our Lady help us understand what the true goods of life are, the ones that last forever.
After the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:
Dear brothers and sisters,
Yesterday morning I came back to Rome after a six-day apostolic journey to Canada. I intend to speak about it during the General Audience this coming Wednesday. But now I would like to thank all those who made this penitential pilgrimage possible, beginning with the Civil Authorities, the Chiefs of the Indigenous Peoples, and the Canadian Bishops. I sincerely thank all those who accompanied me with their prayer. Thank you to you all!
Also, during this journey, I did not cease praying for the suffering and battered Ukrainian people, asking God to free them from the scourge of war. If one looked at what is happening objectively, considering the harm that war brings every day to those people, and even to the entire world, the only reasonable thing to do would be to stop and negotiate. May wisdom inspire concrete steps toward peace.
I extend my greeting to you, people from Rome and pilgrims. A special greeting goes to the novices of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians who are about to make their first religious profession; the group of Catholic Action from Barletta; the young people from the Diocese of Verona; the boys and girls of Unità pastoral “Pieve di Scandiano”; and the “Gonzaga” group from Carimate, Montesolaro, Figino and Novedrate who have walked the Via Francigena.
On the feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, I extend a heartfelt greeting to my fellow-Jesuits. Continue to walk zealously and joyfully in serving the Lord. Be courageous!
I wish all of you a good Sunday. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your meal and arrivederci!