One of the unrelenting themes of this and every political season is a kind of class war between rich and poor. The rich are always accused of not paying their fair share, of getting rich at the expense of the poor, and so on.
What does faith teach us about this?
Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell the story of a rich young ruler who comes to Jesus and asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus first asks if he has kept all the commandments. “Of course, since I was a boy,” comes the answer. Then Jesus said, “Do one more thing. Sell everything and follow me.” The young man went away sad because he had great wealth. Famously, Jesus told his disciples, “It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich many to enter the kingdom of God.”
Here’s why I bring it up during the election season. It’s the disciples’ reaction: they’re astonished. But they don’t say, “Great! He’s been exploiting the poor. He’s getting what he deserved.” Just the opposite. They can’t believe that the rich young ruler would be excluded. If he’s excluded, what hope is there for anyone else?
Jesus isn’t into class warfare.
The rich young ruler claims to have followed the commandments. Jesus doesn’t dispute it and neither do the disciples. He seems to be a man of character who got his wealth without exploiting anyone.
Apparently money doesn’t make you a “bad person.”
But what money can do is keep you from seeing your spiritual condition. The rich young ruler needed to make Jesus Christ the center of his life.
Money has the power to make us blind to that need, no matter how much, or how little, of it we have.