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Thought for the weekend

By Fr Patrick McCafferty

That great prophet of social justice, Amos, gives a dire warning from the Lord to those who exploit the poor: "Never will I forget a single thing you have done" (see Amos 8:4-7).

This weekend, the Scriptures many Christians will hear proclaimed at worship, remind us of our obligations to the needy and disadvantaged, as well as our relationship with what the Lord calls "that tainted thing" - money.

That we must care for the poor, that we must strive to eradicate the suffering caused in human society by inequality and need, is integral to our own eternal salvation.

For example, when the Lord says that He will make our sins like scarlet "as white as snow", the means of washing, indicated by Him, is caring for the oppressed and the vulnerable (see Isaiah 1:6-8).

We are not saved in isolation. If we are oblivious to the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, who are broken by poverty and dire need, then we will not be saved.

We will find ourselves condemned and lost, in eternity, like that rich man, who was so wrapped up in himself and his luxury, that he didn't even notice poor Lazarus lying at the door of his mansion (see Luke 16:19-31).

The Lord Jesus warns us to use money "tainted as it is" for the welfare and benefit of others. Money is a powerful force and is surrounded by enormous temptations. Therefore, like all strong entities, it must be approached with great caution.

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A truly compassionate heart safeguards us against the fatal attractions that lie in accumulating wealth. The Lord, in His parable of the dishonest steward, points that money will inevitably "fail" - not if or might - but absolutely will fail (see Luke 16:1-13).

Money is merely temporal. It's one important use is to help others. True, we need a certain amount to survive this brief sojourn on Earth and to provide for our families; but money is transitory and its value very limited.

"Use money", the Lord Jesus directs - don't let money use you. Do not become dominated by the desire for wealth and the sins of greed and avarice which are deadly to the soul.

It is a great temptation for all churches to become preoccupied with bank balances and for individual Christians to be overly concerned with what is only material. The Lord, therefore, warns us: "You cannot be the slave both of God and of money" (Luke 16:13).

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