Christ Makes Church Rich With Poverty, Says Pope
Reflects on Parable of Dishonest Steward
VELLETRI, Italy, SEPT. 23, 2007 (www.Zenit.org) - Christ makes his followers rich with his poverty, Benedict XVI said in two reflections on the parable of the dishonest steward.
The Pope made a brief pastoral visit today to the suburbicarian Diocese of Velletri-Segni, the titular see to which he was appointed as cardinal from 1993 through his election as Pope, to present to the town of Velletri a bronze column celebrating his pontificate.
The column, with scenes of his life engraved on it, was placed in the plaza of the Cathedral of San Clement, where the Holy Father celebrated Mass.
During the homily the Pontiff said that the lesson of the dishonest steward in the Gospel of Luke illustrates that "no servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.'"
The Holy Father continued: "Mammon is the original Phoenician term that evokes economic security and success in business; we could say that in wealth is found the idol in which one sacrifices everything to reach personal success.
"Therefore a fundamental decision is necessary -- the choice between the logic of profit as the ultimate criteria of our action and the logic of sharing and solidarity.
"The logic of profit, if it prevails, increases not only the disproportion between poor and rich, but also the devastating exploitation of the planet.
"When, on the other hand, the logic of sharing and solidarity prevails, it is possible to correct the course of action and orient it toward proportional development, for the common good of all."
Benedict XVI added, "In the end it is a decision between egoism and love, between justice and dishonesty, and a final choice between God and Satan."
The Pope referred to the prophet Amos who "stigmatizes a typical style of life of someone who lets themselves be drawn in by a selfish search for profit in every possible way and is transformed into a thirst for gain, a contempt for the poor and in exploitation of the poor for their own advantage."
"The Christian must energetically reject all of this," said the Holy Father, "opening his heart, on the contrary, to feelings of authentic generosity."
"A generosity that, as St. Paul tells us in today's second reading, is expressed in a sincere love for all and is manifested in the first place in prayer. A grand gesture of charity is to pray for others."
Upon returning to Castle Gandolfo, Benedict XVI continued his reflection on profit and the equal distribution of goods at midday in his address to the crowds gathered to pray the Angelus.
"Money is not 'dishonest' in itself," he said, "but more than anything else it can close man up within a blind egoism. What is needed therefore is a sort of 'conversion' of economic goods: Instead of using them for one's own interests, we need to also think of the necessities of the poor.
"Christ did not enrich us with his wealth, but with his poverty, that is with his love that motivated him to give himself completely to us."
On the topic of profit and the equal distribution of goods, the Pope said that "one does not contradict the other, provided that their relationship is well-ordered."
"Catholic social doctrine has always sustained that the equal distribution of goods is a priority," added the Holy Father.
The Holy Father acknowledged that profit is legitimate and just, but added: "The crises of hunger and the environment are denouncing, with growing evidence, that the logic of profit, if it prevails, increases the disproportion between rich and poor and a harmful exploitation of the planet.
"When the logic of sharing and solidarity prevails on the other hand, it is possible to correct the course of action and orient it toward proportional and sustainable development."