“The attachment to riches is the beginning of all kinds of corruption, everywhere: personal corruption, corruption in business, even small commercial bribery, the kind that shortchanges you at the counter, political corruption, corruption in education … Why? Because those who live attached to their own power, their own wealth, they believe they’re in heaven. They are closed; they have no horizon, no hope. Eventually they will have to leave everything.”
It is important to note that the Holy Father is not condemning wealth but the dangers attached to it. He continued in his homily, “I say ‘attachment,’ I am not saying ‘good administration of one’s riches’, because riches are for the common good, for everyone. And if the Lord gives them to one person it is so that they are used for the good of all, not for oneself, not so they are closed in one’s heart, which then becomes corrupt and sad.”
In our nation we have examples of great philanthropy on the part of some of our wealthiest citizens. We also have examples of the use of wealth to attempt to manipulate sports, markets and politics for personal financial gain or power.
As the Holy Father observes, “Riches have the ability to seduce, to take us to a seduction and make us believe that we are in a paradise on earth … and makes believe that we are powerful, like God.”
Let us reflect upon Paul’s reminder to Timothy, “…we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it.”
Image credit: Tracy O on Flickr