Today’s gospel begins with a denunciation of idolising money (Matthew 6:24). Money, like God, provides all good things to those who pay it worship: gives food, beverages, health, pleasures, amusements, but what does it ask in return? Like any god, it demands everything.
God is the reference point of the thoughts and actions of human life, and wants to be loved “with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
But, money also expects the total involvement of its devotees. For its sake you must be willing to renounce your own dignity, to deceive, to rob, to ruin others, to lose friendships, to neglect even wife and children (no more time for them), and must also be ready to kill.
We would like to keep God and money in good humour, convinced that what one does not grant us the other will do. But the two are not partners in business. They are antagonists. They cannot be together in the heart of a person.
Taking sides with Jesus involves renunciation of the things that I love. The demands of Jesus are paradoxical and disconcerting.
Before deciding to accept them, you have to ask yourself: How will my life be? What will I eat, drink and what will I wear?
Jesus responds to these questions in the second part of today’s gospel (vv.25-34) where he invites people to have confidence in the Father who is in heaven. The images that show God’s care towards his creatures are delightful: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow…” (vv.26-29).
It somehow gives an impression of being a naïve dreamer, of proposing a carefree, joyful life, but completely detached from reality. It is not like this. Jesus does not suggest disengagement, laziness, disinterest or resignation. He proposes a new relationship with things: not hoarding, but sharing based on trust in God’s providence.
It recalls the experience of Exodus: Israel was a people on the move. They could not accumulate. The manna could not be collected in quantities greater than needed for one day. In this way, God had educated his people on detachment from goods.
Jesus does not condemn the planning, foresight. He disapproves of the worry about tomorrow, the anxiety that leads to the loss of the joy of living.
Worry is common to the poor as well as the rich. Money does not only eliminate concern and worry, but it sharpens and heightens them.
We know the sleepless nights of the unemployed, penniless fathers of families with wives and children to support. We also know that anxieties are useless; they do not help to resolve the problems of food and clothes. They are a waste of energy.
Jesus suggests his remedy to this disease: Raise up your gaze towards the other, towards the Father who is in heaven.
This does not mean remaining with our hands tied, but facing reality with a new heart.
The author of the Letter to the Hebrew echoes the words of Jesus: “Do not depend on money. Be content with having enough for today for God has said: I will never forsake you or abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5).
Jesus invites us to maintain inner peace. Man’s life is in the hands of God who never abandons his children. He accompanies them at all times, blesses their efforts and their commitment.