Beloved brothers and sisters,
I Want to be Rich!
I want to be rich! Is this aspiration a vain one? It is not if we do not see wealth as the supreme good. It is lawful and noble to work hard to make a lot of money. The danger lies when the acquisition of wealth becomes an absolute life goal. The endless pursuit of wealth sooner or later "becomes an obstacle to individual fulfillment and to man's true greatness. Both for nations and for individuals, avarice is the most evident form of moral underdevelopment" (Paul VI. Populorum Progressio, 19).
Having wealth is not the problem. Attitude towards wealth is the problem. The greed for money, to have and to hold on to it, leads to its worship and idolization. When our soul and society are money-driven, we lose sight of the Creator whom we should make our ultimate goal. To what do I ascribe absolute worth? To what do I invest most of my time and energy? Is the accumulation of wealth my utmost priority? The parable of the rich fool is an instruction on letting spiritual wealth be our ultimate goal. Human happiness will not be found in the accumulation of wealth. The incredible treasure to lay up for ourselves is richness toward God. This spiritual goal means building up a spiritual empire of virtue.
Do I want to be rich? Yes. I want to be rich above all in the sight of God. I want to accumulate spiritual treasures because it is the only treasure that lasts eternally. Material wealth is fleeting and temporary, but spiritual wealth has lasting value. Indeed, the moral act of giving to those in need from our material wealth gives it spiritual dividends. If we have material wealth through our hard work and God's grace, we should expend it generously towards restoring human dignity to the poor in our society. The use of our wealth in the service of the poor among us rather than in indulgence in selfish pleasure is one of the primary goals of Pope Francis' pontificate- wealthy Christians and nations should use their God-given wealth, the fruits of their labor, in the service of the poor. In this way, they lay treasure in heaven through their material wealth. We must stand with Pope Francis in his desire for the church: "How I long for a poor Church for the poor!" For this reason, I want to be rich.
Fr. Bernard, OP