We must guard ourselves against the temptation to idolize money, for this may weaken our faith and accustom us to the deception of meaningless and hurtful desires that lead people to destruction and perdition. Pope Francis warned against this danger at Mass on Friday morning, September 20, 2013, in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
The Holy Father commented on the Readings of the day, saying: "Jesus told us clearly and definitively, that we cannot serve two masters, you cannot serve both God and money. It just doesn't work. There is something about the attitude of love towards money that takes us away from God". Quoting the First Letter of St Paul to Timothy (6:2-12, "The love of money is the root of all evils"), the Pope said: "Those who want to be rich fall into temptation and deception, and the many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and perdition". Taken by "this desire, some have wandered away from the faith and have brought many torments upon themselves". "Money is so powerful, that it makes us deviate from the faith", it even "robs us of our faith, weakens it and makes us lose it".
"But money also sickens our thoughts, it even sickens our faith and makes it chose another path. These idle words, useless discussions... It goes even further... It gives rise to envy, strife, slander, evil suspicions, the conflicts of men with corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who consider religion as a source of income.
"I'm a Catholic, I go to Mass, because that gives me a certain status. I am well considered... but underneath I take care of my own interests, right? I cultivate money. Here a word is used by Saint Paul, which we find very, very frequently in the newspapers:'Men of corrupt mind.'Money corrupts! There is no way out. If you choose the road of money, in the end you will be corrupt. Money is this seductive that it slowly leads you to slip towards perdition. That is why Jesus is so categorical: You can not serve God and money. You can not: either one or the other! And this is not communism, eh! This is pure Gospel! These are the words of Jesus!"
"So what happens with money?" the Pope asked. "Money offers a degree of prosperity: you are alright, you feel a little important and then comes the vanity. We have read in Psalm 48: this vanity comes to you. Vanity that is useless, but makes you feel like an important person". Vanity, pride, wealth: this is how men in the Psalm are described: Those who "trust in their strength, and boast of their great wealth".
And so what is the truth? The truth, the Pope explained, is that "no one can redeem himself, or pay to God the appropriate price. The redemption of a life would be too expensive. No one can save themselves with money", however strong the temptation may be to chase "the wealth of feeling sufficient, the vanity of feeling important and, in the end, pride and arrogance".
"But, Father, I read the Ten Commandments and they do not speak ill of money. Against which Commandment do we sin when we do something for money?"
"Against the first! (Exodus 20:3:'You shall have no other gods before me.') It is the sin of idolatry. Here's why: because money becomes the idol you worship! And that is why Jesus tells us:'You can not serve the idol money and the Living God: either one or the other.'
"The early Fathers of the Church – I am speaking of the third century, more or less 200 or 300 AD – used a strong word:'money is the devil's dung.'And it is so, because it makes us idolaters, and sickens our mind with pride and makes us maniacs of idle issues and distances us from the faith, it corrupts.
"St. Paul tells us to avoid these things, but to strive for justice, godliness, faith, love. And patience and meakness, against vanity and pride. This is'the road of God, not that of the idolatrous power that money can give. Humility is'the road to serve God. May the Lord – the Holy Father concluded – help us all to not fall into the trap of idolatry of money."