Immersed in Christ: August 18, 2020
TUESDAY of the TWENTIETH WEEK in Ordinary Time
It is I who deal death and give life.
(Responsorial: Deuteronomy 32:26-36)
In Ezekiel 28:1-10 we see the basic strategy of the devil bearing its fruit. St. Ignatius of Loyola cracked the code: the devil wages a three-step campaign. He tempts us to two things that are not sinful in themselves; that are good, in fact. But if we acquire them, they will lead us into the sin of sins. It is brilliant.
First the devil tempts us to desire riches. The riches of Tyre described in chapter 27 make the artist, the architect, the merchant in us long to see it as it was. Tyre was glorious. In a perfect world, God would want everyone to be rich. But in the real world wealth is deadly.
Riches bring prestige, admiration, honors. Tyre was a city people came from all the earth to see and trade with. Prestige follows riches, and the devil’s second step is to make us bask in it.
In an ideal world, we could not honor each other enough to satisfy God. God honors us beyond what we can believe. But when honors come from riches—not just money, but the “wealth” of our accomplishments—they go to our head. We think we earned them by our power. “Our” power, as if every breath we draw were not a new gift from God. We think we are the source of our power, our skills, our brilliance. God says:
Oh yes, you are wiser than Daniel, there is no secret that is beyond you. By your wisdom and your intelligence... applied to your trading, you have heaped up your riches; your heart has grown haughty from your riches.... you have thought yourself to have the mind of a god.
Then the devil closes the trap. We begin to see ourselves as the criterion of truth and goodness. Because are so smart, so good, whatever we think must be true; whatever we want must be good. That is to make ourselves God. That is pride.1
This explains why Jesus says in Matthew 19:23-30, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Being rich isn’t a sin; it is an obstacle. Jesus said it is such an obstacle that his disciples saw no way around it. They asked him: “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus didn’t say they were exaggerating. He just looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” When the same Nabuchadnezzar who razed Tyre threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fiery furnace, God kept them happy and healthy in the flames. Still, most of us would prefer not to depend on a miracle to be saved. 2
Those who have money are not “rich” if they don’t think they own it, and don’t think it entitles them to privileges.
Initiative: Remember God is the source of your life and of all you can do with it.