The theme of this year’s Fraternity Campaign , “Economy and Life”, and its motto, “You cannot serve God and money” (Mt 6.24) has clear implications for social ethics. The exaggerated love of money is at the root of social injustices, miseries, dishonesty, violence and insensitivity in the face of the sufferings of others, environmental degradation and death; therefore, the call for Lenten conversion has strong implications for our social behavior. Our action as disciples of Jesus Christ should help to mark economic relations with the ethics of solidarity and fraternity, rather than the logic of greedy profit; the effortless pursuit of the common good must take the place of the individualistic affirmation of the personal good.
The Campaign’s theme, however, also brings to our reflection a question that must never be forgotten: what does man’s true good consist in? Among the many goods that are accessible and legitimately enjoyable, is one the supreme good that cannot be exchanged for any other? This question, which has fundamental implications for personal life and faith in God, runs through the entire Bible and deserves more than an observation of Jesus in the Gospels. On second thought, the question is also posed by almost all religions that generally identify, in attachment to the riches of this world, a danger to faith in God; it is true that some form of religiosity also intends to place God at the service of the acquisition of goods, through a certain “prosperity theology”; but let’s be sure of that: using God to make money or to promise goods to others is clearly
The word of Jesus ?? you cannot serve God and money? make direct reference to the first commandment of the Law of God: ?? You shall have no other gods outside of me; will you love the Lord your God and serve Him alone ?? To serve money is to put it in God’s place, giving it more attention than God Himself; and money is turned into an idol. Still in the sermon on the mountain, Jesus teaches the disciples to be wise during their lives and to seek true, unseen treasures: ?? Do not set up treasures here on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves assault and steal. On the contrary, gather for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, nor do thieves assault and steal. Where is your treasure, there is also your heart ?? (Mt 6, 19-21).
The Christian and every person of common sense should not place his security on the goods he has. Jesus warns against all kinds of greed, which is the greedy pursuit of goods; and tells the parable of that rich man, who made a very abundant harvest and thought: ?? Now I can rest easy, I have reserves for many years and I will enjoy life … ?? And Jesus says that that man was “foolish”, that is, without judgment: “that same night he died; and all the wealth you have gathered, for whom has it remained? A similar thing happens to those who collect treasures for themselves, but do not become rich for God ?? (cf Lk 12, 13,21).
Also the Old Testament sage, who evaluated everything from the horizon of his faith and trust in God, already warned against the illusion of riches: Why fear those who trust in riches and glory in the abundance of their goods? ? No one gets rid of death for money, nor can he pay his ransom to God; for no price can one get rid of death and for no wealth can man buy a life without limits, or secure an immortal existence for himself; the wise and the rich alike die; fools and fools die; and everyone will have a grave at home… ?? (cf Ps 48 (49), 6-12). Nothing is taken from this world, everything is left behind, except the ?? treasures ?? accumulated in the sky during this life.
Of course, the problem is not with goods as such; the vision of faith about life makes us welcome and appreciate, with simplicity and gratitude to God, the goods made available to us by nature, or those obtained through honest work. The problem, on the one hand, is whether the possession of the assets was legitimate and did not harm anyone’s right and dignity. On the other hand, it is important to see our attitude towards goods: if they become the supreme value of our life and, for them, we are able to sacrifice any other good, it means that they took over our life and we became their servers, instead of being at our service. Here begins the idolatry of goods, because God himself, his law and his commandments, are in the background before the ?? requirements ?? of that idol. Not to mention the brothers,
For this reason, the Fraternity Campaign makes us review our attitudes towards money and the goods of this world; may they serve our life and the common good, to live in fraternal solidarity with others. This requires continuous conversion.