June 19, 2015
Pope Francis warns against the corrupting effects of greed and accumulating wealth for ourselves, saying they are at the root of wars and family divisions. His words came during his homily at his morning Mass on Friday (June 19th) at the Santa Marta residence.
Taking his inspiration from the day’s gospel reading where Jesus warned his disciples not to accumulate treasures on the earth but instead in heaven, the Pope reflects on the many dangers posed by greed and human ambition. He said these vices end up corrupting and enslaving our hearts and rather than accumulating wealth for ourselves we should be using it for the common good.
Greed corrupts and destroys
“In the end this wealth doesn’t give us lasting security. Instead, it tends to reduce your dignity. And this happens in families – so many divided families. And this ambition that destroys and corrupts is also at the root of wars. There are so many wars in our world nowadays because of greed for power and wealth. We can think of the war in our own hearts. As the Lord said, ‘Be on your guard against avarice of any kind.’ Because greed moves forward, moves forward, moves forward… it’s like a flight of steps, the door opens and then vanity comes in --- believing ourselves to be important, believing ourselves to be powerful… and then in the end pride (comes). And all the vices come from that, all of them. They are steps but the first step is avarice, that desire to accumulate wealth.”
Pope Francis conceded that it’s not easy for an administrator or politician to use resources for the common good and an honest one can be considered a saint.
“There’s one thing that is true, when the Lord blesses a person who has wealth, he makes him an administrator of those riches for the common good and for the benefit of everybody, not just for that person. And it’s not easy to become an honest administrator because there’s always that temptation of greed, of becoming important. Our world teaches you this and it takes us along that road. We must think about others and realise that what I own is for the benefit of others and nothing that I have now can be taken with me. But if I, as an administrator, use what the Lord gives me for the common good, this sanctifies me, it will make me a saint.
Don’t play with fire
The Pope said we often hear many excuses from people who spend their lives accumulating wealth but he stressed the only treasures we should be storing up are the ones that have value in ‘the handbag of Heaven’.
“It’s difficult, it’s like playing with fire! So many people calm their consciences by giving alms and they give what they have left over. This is not an administrator: the administrator's job is to take (what is needed) for himself or herself and whatever is left over is given to others, all of it. Administering wealth means a continual stripping away of our own interests and not believing that these riches will save us. It’s fine to accumulate riches, it’s fine to accumulate treasures but only those who have a value, let’s say, in ‘the handbag of Heaven.’ That’s where we should be storing them up!