Christ and Money-6 ;
By Fr. C. C. Martindale,
TN thinking of this subject, we A must be careful not to misapply single texts or even whole parables. Thus the famous parable of "Dives" (the "Rich Man") and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31) does not rebuke the former for being rich, but for having totally disregarded the " poor man " who was so weak and helpless that he could not even keep off the scavenger dogs that disgustingly licked his sores (there is not here a sentimental idea that the very dogs were kinder than the plutocrat . . .).
The parable about the Supper to which wealthier persons were invited but who made last-minute excuses, so that the room had to be filled up with a riff-raff from the by-streets (Lk. 14; Mt. 22), alludes primarily to the rejection of their Messiah by the Jews and the substitution of the despised Gentiles in their place.
Nor must we attend chiefly to the reminder that riches do not last ---the parable of the man who pulled down his barns to build bigger ones and said to himself: " Now eat and drink and enjoy yourself! " To him it was said: Thou fool! This night they will ask thy life back from thee! " (Lk 12:16-20): but when pagans had reflected that " nothing lasts", they either lapsed into pessimism: "What is the good of anything? ", or, into making the most of the pleasures of the moment. But Our Lord lifts the whole matter to a higher plane: we are to be " rich towards God", not for one's self (21), and he uses words that St. Matthew also uses in the " Sermon on the Mount " (Lk 12: 33; Mt 6:19-21); for once, St. Matthew is more vivid than St. Luke! He sees the thief "digging" his way through or under the clay foundation-less bricks of a house and its treasure-chamber; or the " moth and rust " (more exactly, moth and worm) gnawing their way through precious silks or scented woods: but this is mentioned only as contrast with " laying up treasures in heaven," an ideal summed up in the words: `Where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also" (Mt 6:21).