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Saturday, February 26, 2011


To Listen to Australian Catholic Radio Online:

Food, shelter and clothing are the basic needs of man.  It is but normal to be reasonably concerned how to procure them to live a comfortable and dignified life.  Whether we like it or not, we need money to have them.
Jesus reminds us in our gospel today that we cannot serve both God and mammon.  The term mammon in the context of Jesus’s milieu means material possessions.  When does a thing become a mammon that competes with God?  When does it become a god in its own right? Who among us do not want to eat good and healthy food?  Who does not want to wear good and decent clothes?  Who does not want to live in a comfortable house?   Justice demands that we should provide ourselves with at least the basic needs.
A thing becomes a mammon when it starts to possess us rather than us possessing it.  When we become possessed by a thing or a person, we become its slave and it becomes our god.  This happens in a very subtle manner, in fact we never acknowledge it because oftentimes we are not aware of it.   We make a precious possession or a person our god without us knowing it.  This happens when our life totally depends on that person or possession, the absence of which brings us death.  They become our idols and we sinned against idolatry.
Most of us have judged Imelda Marcos owning 3,000 pairs of shoes.  We say it is outrageous, coming from a very poor country wherein more than half of the population live below the poverty line.  3,000 gods being worshipped by her two feet.  Yet if we take a look at our selves, maybe we will find more or less than 3,000 gods lurking in the deep recesses of our souls, without us knowing we have been worshipping them.  Sometimes just like Imelda we justify ourselves why we have them.
The brightest faces of evil in the modern world today are consumerism and materialism.  The world entices us to get material more than what we can take and satisfy our ego that longs for more; to take more than what we need and consume them as much as we want.  When I first went to the USA, I was scandalized by what they call the fruits of the American dream: huge houses being occupied only by two people; wardrobes with unused clothes still kept in plastic bags; toilets as huge as car park and many more.  But we never call them evil because they look good to the eyes and we want to have them, too.
A thing becomes a mammon when our security depends on it and we do not need God anymore.  This is the evil that the affluent nations are facing when spirituality becomes passé and religion is a thing of the past and they do not have a space for the sense of the sacred.  When everything becomes secular and secured, who will need God?
The first reading today from the prophet Isaiah is one of the finest in the Old Testament. “Can a mother forget her baby yet even if she does forget, I will never forget you.  I have carved you in the palm of my hands” says God.  What a lovely thought that God is likened to a mother loving us unconditionally. 
While all our created gods and idols will someday become stale and sooner will leave us, God will be faithful to us, forever and always…

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