Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours (Lk. 6:20—NABRE)
They warn against idolatry, both the teaching, “You cannot serve God and mammon,” and the one that says, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Every idolater despises God and, hence, has no inheritance in the kingdom (Mt. 6:24; Eph. 5:5).
Through these warnings, the living and effective Word of God also extends the invitation to discipleship to those who are prone to turn into a dehumanizing idol the good things that come from God (Ps. 115:4-8). Whether we have much or little or nothing, we are lovingly called to fullness.
Jesus earnestly wants the rich to repent of the self-sufficiency that is characteristic of the rich man blessed with a bountiful harvest (Lk. 12:16-21). This dreamer of the largest barns is unmindful of the Giver of blessings. He puts his trust in the possessions he has accumulated and congratulates himself for them. Yes, there is such a thing as the responsibility of a servant to make the capital entrusted to him by his master to grow. But such responsibility cannot be mistaken for greed. The former recognizes God; the latter exalts the financial storage as the almighty and absolute sovereign.
Those motivated by greed are fools who prefer possessions—power, wealth, moral or doctrinal superiority, health, beauty—to God’s resplendent and wise words. And since fleeting possessions do not fill, the fools devote themselves unceasingly to acquiring them. They only think of themselves and of increasing their wealth and have no regard for justice, equality, sustainability. It does not bother them to throw away good food while millions starve.
Jesus instructs the 99% with little or nothing not to be like the greedy of the 1% who, like their idol, bear the image and inscription of the exploiter, not of the Liberator, and make use of the mark of the beast to buy or sell (Rev. 13:17). Liberation cannot come from the oppressive system. One arrives at an alternative only by thinking outside the box.
The Christian alternative asks that those who seek salvation put their trust in Providence and not worry about their powerlessness and their needs. They should be consumed by love, not of money, but of the treasure that the poor are. Rejecting lifeless idol and recognizing that life and well-being depends on God, who can do everything, those who have little or nothing are rich in their poverty, strong in their weakness, great in their being the least, the first as they take the last places.
And they will live up to what they do in memory of the one who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Together with the beggars Lazarus of today, with the poor widow who offered her whole livelihood, with St. Francis of Assisi and St. Vincent de Paul, they will thus contribute—better than the rich who dress in purple garment and fine linen and are regaled with sumptuous banquets—to evangelization, conscientization, the rebuilding of the Church, the attainment of something we lack.