Yesterday, we went to mass at the nearby Catholic Church…the poor priest had an uphill slog. The Bible reading was about money. “A man cannot serve two masters,” he quoted the Nazarene. Clearly, there is a choice to be made. But put the question to a random group of Americans, French, or English…in 2007…we’re not sure which way it will go.
The poor parish priest made a good try. He began by explaining what he was up against:
“This is a difficult passage for us, of course. Here we have Christ telling the story of an overseer who is about to be fired by his master. Seeing that he will need a little support from someone, he goes to people who owe his master money. He makes deals with them, reducing what they owe to the master so that they will owe the overseer a favour. In effect, he is cheating his own master.
“But Christ goes on to say that ‘you can’t serve two masters;’ you can serve God, or you can serve money. Not both.
“We don’t quite understand why Christ seems to approve of cheating the master out of what was rightfully his. It poses a problem for us, because we think cheating is wrong. But Christ often poses very difficult situations…forcing us to think deeply about what our duty to God (as opposed to our duty to our fellow man, and money) really is. This story requires us to recognise that the deals made by men, deals involving wealth, power, and money…are always less important than the deals we make with God.
“The overseer was being fired…we can imagine that he had died, in order to understand this better. After he has left his earthly master’s employment, he has to face a new master, God himself. And that is the relationship that counts. He has to think of THAT master…of THAT obligation…even to the point of doing things that seem to us not to be quite right. The master that must be served is the one that is waiting for you after he leaves his current situation…which, of course, is our life on this Earth.”
It was the best a priest could do.
Markets and Money
Do you believe it’s possible to serve money and God? Have you had to choose between one and the other? Leave a message below.