“Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity.” (Lk. 16:9)
There is a profound agere contra in this evangelical principle concerning the use of money. Instead of using it to increase our attachment to this temporal world, and thus decrease our charity towards God, Our Lord urges us to turn it into a means to sanctify our soul and secure our way to Heaven. Indeed, with a proper use of temporal goods, charities can only increment real charity. The history of the Church is a lasting witness to it. Behind all the schools, the hospitals, the religious congregations, the missionary apostolate of every kind, there has been and will always be souls giving the much needed material means to accomplish these “works of mercy.”
Saint Paul praised the young church of Macedonia for having understood this principle very well when he made a general collection for the persecuted Christians of Jerusalem: “Amid much testing of tribulation, their overflowing joy and their very deep poverty have resulted in deep generosity. For according to their means, beyond their means, they gave earnestly begging us the favor of sharing in the ministry that is in behalf of the saints…” (2 Cor. 8:2-4) And he continues: “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly…God loves a cheerful giver!” (2 Cor. 9:6-7) Money can be turned into grace!
Let us add another observation: Making “friends with the mammon of iniquity” is not just a matter of recommended charity. This duty to alleviate the needs of others can even become a grave obligation under pain of mortal sin. Early in his pontificate, St. Pius X issued an important but little known Motu Proprio on popular social action, Fin dalla Prima Nostra (Dec. 18, 1903), which partly deals with this matter. He teaches there that the inequality of creatures is willed by God for the harmony of creation in order to oblige everyone to practice certain virtues proper to his condition. In section IX of his Motu Proprio, the pope teaches: “The rich and those who have goods have an obligation in charity to alleviate the poor and the needy according to the precept of the Gospel. This precept obliges so gravely that in the day of judgment a special account will have to be given of the fulfillment of this according to the words of Christ himself (Mt. 25).”
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mt. 13:9)
Fr. Daniel Couture