Dear Catholic Exchange:
I have always hated money, for it seems always to be a "necessary evil." I asked my friend if she thought that because I hate money that that is why I have so many financial difficulties. Do you think there is a connection? If we shouldn't hate money, I can't believe we should love it either. So what other choice is there?
"Always a day late and a dollar short … or more."
Dear Friend in Christ,
Our Lord says, "No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Mt. 16:24).
Clearly from this verse we understand that we are not to love mammon, which we might call money or wealth. But should our attitude be one of actual hate? Yes and no.
The answer is yes in the sense that money or the acquisition or preservation of wealth has become more important to us than God. For many people today, this is a real temptation, especially given our affluent society. The Catechism (no. 2113) cites the above verse in warning that money can indeed become an idol or false god in our lives. If it does, then we have violated the First Commandment, to have no over gods but the one true God. When it comes to God or money, there can be only one correct choice. In fact, Our Lord uses similar language when it comes to "hating" relatives (Lk. 14:26). The sense of hate here means that even human relationships, let alone money, must be subordinated to our Christian discipleship. After all, what good is it to have all sorts of material or temporal blessings but in the process lose our soul?
By the same token, money is not an evil in itself, like the devil or sin.
It's a resource, just like the things that are purchased with money. We can do great good with the material and financial resources at our disposal, and we can also do evil. So, we're stewards of what we have and will have to give an account to the Lord as to how we used what we have. That's a far cry from shunning money altogether as an inherent evil. The important thing is that our priorities are right, such that money does not become our golden calf.
United in the Faith,
Catholics United for the Faith
827 North Fourth Street
Steubenville, OH 43952