Probably it would not be fair to compare the man in today’s gospel with Scrooge. After all, he is probably only seeking justice for what should be rightfully his. And Jesus does not call him a miser either for asking what he asked. The truth however is that, the story is so real, even for us in our times, unfortunately, that what is often termed as “justice” in situations like this can easily turn a normally human being into a Scrooge-like character. This is a story which we probably can all relate to in one way or another. We all know families, sometimes even too close to us, in which members do not talk to each other because of an inheritance problem.
In situations like this it is good to ask ourselves: what is truly most important for me? I’ve often heard people in similar situations telling me (quite forcefully, I must add) that it is not a question of money, but of justice and principle. Like Jesus, I would not like to enter into the merits of such stories, or try to decide who is right or wrong. After all, my studies led me to become a priest, not a judge. But I always take the opportunity of these occasions to ask myself, as well as the other person who is with me: what is really most important for me in my life? What do I value most? In the gospel, Jesus tries to bring home the message to the man facing him by reminding him that he will take nothing with him beyond his death-bed. A fact that cannot be denied. So the logical conclusion would be to treasure that which really matters, that which will stays with me forever.
In today’s second reading, St Paul exhorts us to: “Seek things that are above …set your minds on things that are above.”
Neither Paul nor Jesus tell us that we should not be careful with our money or possessions. It is needed and without money life would become much harder to deal with. But, the moment I find that I am losing my peace because of money, or that earthly possessions are becoming more important than my blood-relations, I realize that there is something wrong. I cannot give money that power over my life. Because, as the English philosopher Francis Bacon rightly put it: Money is a great servant but a bad master.
Only love survives beyond death.