In our local diocesan paper this week, in a column written by a member of the clergy, the
pursuit of wealth is once again impugned in favor of the "Golden Rule."
I say "once again" because the pursuit of wealth is a favorite "whipping boy" of the clergy. Time and again materialism, wealth generation, and business in general is castigated from the pulpit.
I have no doubt of the good intentions of the particular column, i.e. encouraging charity, etc. However, it's time our clergy begin to think of some new ways to encourage it without the obligatory swipe at the making of money.
The author contrasts gold with the Golden Rule. In doing so, he equates gold, and the pursuit of gold, with all that is wrong with the world: greed, lust, power, envy...the usual suspects.
I don't have time to do a whole Bible study here, but God commands the use of gold in the making of the tabernacle, the ornamentation of the temple, etc. In Revelations we find Jesus himself in a gold sash, as well as many references to gold. The Church requires that gold, or at least silver, be used for the liturgical vessels, etc.
I don't mean to be disrespectful here, but "Father" is going to be able to eat tonight and sleep in a bed. I don't have the same guarantee. Everyday I must find ways to "find gold" in order that my children can eat and sleep in safety.
The standard reply to my "need for gold" is "fine, as long as it is not excessive". But who get's to decide that? If I go out and buy an expensive house that is bigger than what "I need" or what others think I need, I would be judged, by common clergy standards, as being materialistic.
But how many people got to feed their families because I bought a house, regardless of whether or not it is what I need or not? How many people worked on that house and got paid because someone was going to buy that house? How about the people who may be hired to keep up the house and the yard? I could go on.
What amazes me most is that despite the tongue lashing the business community gets at Mass on a regular basis, the business community is the first people pastors will go to when they need something that costs money.
Let's stop the hypocrisy and the assumptions. On a material level, many of the clergy live better than we lay folks do. They have a place to stay, guaranteed meals, health insurance, and some degree of retirement security. Most of us have none of that, especially those of us who have children, lots of children.
Again, I understand Father's intention. But really, it's time to find another way of elevating charity other than demeaning those of us who must "pursue gold" every day.