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1 Timothy 6:10

In their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

Wealth and possessions

It is hard to hear this verse and not think of the story of the prodigal son who betrays his father and family by his desire to turn his inheritance into cash. The fields that should have remained part of an extended family possession upon which all depended are sold away for the sake of what money might buy. But wealth does not connect us to one another; it tends to fragment the human community. The wealthy must build fences and borders and hire guards and police to protect their possessions. It separates those wearing purple from those with only one tunic. It focuses our attention and concern on ourselves, like the man who tore down his barns to build bigger ones, or the rich man who did not see Lazarus at his gate.

Statistically, the wealthy give away a smaller portion of their income than the poor. And they tend to give to museums and causes rather than to community food banks. The desire for wealth can lead us away from the kingdom of God rather than towards it, away from the love of neighbor, away from the shared table, away from the justice and mercy that Jesus embodied and to which all scripture calls us.

I understand the desire for wealth; I also understand the risks. So what are we asking when we say, “Lead us not into temptation”?