The word “mammon” is not a commonly used word in our twenty-first century vocabulary. It was far more popular in the European Middle Ages. It refers to wealth regarded as an evil influence or false object of worship and devotion. Later poets even attributed it to one of the fallen angels, personified and included in the seven princes of Hell.
While the word specifically refers to monetary wealth, spiritual writers have likened it to material possession that distracts us from our true vocation; namely, the call to holiness leading to everlasting life with God.
David Fleming, a Jesuit who has written extensively on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola reminds us of the first principle of the pursuit of holiness:
“The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit. All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily. As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God insofar as they help us develop as loving persons. But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives, they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal. In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some obligation. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God. Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening his life in me.”
The final passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans sums up for us how the Gospel of Jesus Christ has opened up for us treasures far greater than money or any other material gain can ever be. To the only wise God, through Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator