God and Mammon?

Photography © by Andy Coan

In the ancient world, most peoples believed in a universe populated by many gods.  However, even without the help of biblical revelation, Greek philosophers figured something out.  There could only be one Supreme Being, only one almighty and omnipotent Ruler of all, only one God.

In the twelfth chapter of Luke, Jesus asks a question.  Whom do you serve? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or that god called “mammon?”  You can only have one God.

We all know mammon has something to do with money.  But the word he uses here is not the common word for money.  Mammon means unjust gain, greed, or money made an end in itself, an ultimate value, a controlling force.  Some people use money to provide for their family.  Others sell out their family, their country, their integrity . . . for money.  This is where money becomes mammon, a relentless god that demands that all bow before it and offer sacrifice.

If you review all the Old and New Testament texts that deal with wealth, you find a recurring theme.  Woe is the man who trusts in his great wealth.  Riches are not a reliable foundation to build on when it comes to eternal or even present security.  America was once wise enough to put “in God we trust” on its money.  Only the fool puts his trust in his money.

When Jesus points to the lilies of the field who neither toil nor spin, don’t get him wrong.  He is not encouraging us to quit toiling and spinning.  St. Paul berates those in Thessalonica who used trust in God as an excuse for laziness, idleness and irresponsibility.  In contrast, he offers an example to the faithful by his work day and night to support himself so he is not a burden on anyone else.  Those who do not work should not eat he says (2 Thes. 3:10).

So Jesus is not trying to get us to stop working.  He is telling us to stop worrying.  Worry is a kind of recurring fear.  And the most frequent command of Jesus in the four gospels is “Do not be afraid!” more literally translated “Stop fearing!”

We are more precious to God than the lilies of the field.  If he will provide for them, how much more will he provide for us!  There are times that he will provide manna.  Other times, he will provide work.  We should gratefully accept whatever he provides and work hard.  But we must labor in confidence, not in anxiety.  For the love of God, not the love of money.  For His glory, not for our own.


Editor’s Note: Reflection on the Mass readings for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) — Isaiah 49:14-15; Psalms 62:2-3, 6-7, 8-9; First Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 6:24-34

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For his resources on parenting and family life or information on his pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 1.800.803.0118.


If you liked this Scripture reflection, please share it with your friends and family using the Share and Recommend buttons below and via email. We value your comments and encourage you to leave your thoughts below. Thank you! – The Editors

Print this entry

About the Author

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For his resources on parenting and family life or information on his pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 1.800.803.0118.

Raised in Italian/Irish neighborhood in Providence, RI, Marcellino D’Ambrosio never thought about being anything else but Catholic. But like other Catholic teens, his faith was the last place he looked for fulfillment. Following in the footsteps of his parents, both professional performers in their single years, Marcellino set his sights on stardom, playing bass guitar in several popular rock bands by the time he was 16. At that time he encountered a group of Catholics whose Christian life was an exciting adventure, an adventure worth living for. So he laid his bass guitar aside and embarked on a road that led to a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Catholic University of America. His doctoral dissertation, written under the direction of the renowned Jesuit theologian, Avery Cardinal Dulles, focused on one of the theological lights of the Second Vatican Council, Henri Cardinal de Lubac, and his recovery of biblical interpretation of the early Church fathers.

His writing has been published in the international journal Communio, Abingdon’s Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation, the Tablet, Catholic Digest, Our Sunday Visitor, and Catholic News Service’s syndicated column "Faith Alive." His popular book, Exploring the Catholic Church and video course by the same name (known as Touching Jesus through the Church in the USA) have been used in hundreds of parishes all throughout the English speaking world. The Guide to the Passion: 100 Questions about the Passion of the Christ, of which he is co-author and co-editor, may prove to be the fastest-selling Catholic book of all time with over a million copies sold in less than three months.

Dr. D’Ambrosio, the father of five and a business owner, brings to his teaching a practical, down-to-earth perspective that makes his words easy to understand and put into practice. Audio and video recordings of his popular teaching are internationally distributed. He often appears on the international Eternal Word Television Network is regularly heard on the nationally syndicated radio show "Catholic Answers Live." Dr. D'Ambrosio has been a guest on Geraldo Rivera, At Large on FoxNews Channel, the Bill O'Reilly radio show and Radio America's news program Dateline: Washington.

In 2001 Dr. D’Ambrosio left his position at the University of Dallas to develop the work of Crossroads Productions, the apostolate of Catholic renewal and evangelization that he co-founded twenty years ago, and to more directly oversee the growth of Wellness Opportunities Group a company dedicated to helping people improve the quality of their lives physically, mentally, and financially. He, his wife Susan, and their five children, reside just outside of San Antonio, TX.

Author Archive Page

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *