The Parish Church of Sarum St. Martin, Salisbury Wiltshire

St. Martin's Church Street

Salisbury

Wiltshire

SP1 2HY

01722 503123

saintmartins.salisbury@gmail.com

Church of England Salisbury Diocesan Forward in Faith The Society
 
Sarum St. Martin

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From the Priest-In-Charge of Sarum St. Martin’s

28th Sunday in OT B 2018

“For men it is impossible, but not for God: because everything is possible for God.” Even to allowing a rich man into the Kingdom of Heaven!

We all want at least some kind of wealth.  Money is a very necessary commodity.  Without money how do we put a roof over our head, put food on the table, or heat our houses?  There is nothing wrong with money, especially as money consists of figures on a bank balance and coins or notes in our pockets.  Totally inanimate with no life of its own.  Money is necessary in the society in which we live.  So what can the Lord possibly mean?

In 1st century Palestine a rich man was regarded as a moral and religious paragon.  The fact of wealth meant that God had favoured that man, and it was men, because that man was moral and good.  This explains why the disciples were, ‘more astonished than ever’ at what Jesus was saying and asked one another, ‘then who can be saved?’  Money equalled moral worth in the eyes of God.  Yet here is Jesus, turning that understanding entirely on its head. 

Too often today do we hear this phrase apparently from St. Paul, ‘Money is the root of all evil.’  Only St. Paul did not write those words.  What he did write was that, ‘The love of money is the root of all evil’; the important word there being, of course, love.  St. Paul was amplifying for his congregation what His Lord was recorded as having said in this Gospel passage.  So what is going on here.

The important word in what St. Paul wrote was, of course, love; the LOVE of money.  Jesus makes it clear time and time again that the only true object of a believers’ love is the Father.  Anything that gets in the ways of that is sinful and therefore creates a barrier between humankind and The Father.  And money in great riches can do that.  Jesus is saying that the rich young ruler has so much money that his life has become distorted so that his faith is in himself and his own moral worth as signified to him by his wealth.  To put it simply, he has raised for himself a false god, his love of money.  So that when Jesus said, ‘Go and sell everything you have have and give the money to the poor’ , the rich young ruler could not contemplate doing so, for to do that would mean that he was tearing down his god, that is his wealth.  Jesus was not saying that money in itself was the problem, it was rather what the rich young ruler had made of his money.

Money is indeed a very necessary commodity for  without money how can we put a roof over our head, put food on the table, or heat our houses? But as with everything that we have we can very easily make of it a false god which can and will, if we are not on our guard, displace The Father as the sole object of our love and adoration.  So while Jesus is saying that for this man his wealth has become his god, he is saying to us, beware, be on your guard, do not become like this poor man, who, though rich in this world’s good had lost his heart.

Fr David Fisher

In the society in which we live today when the consumption of goods and the accumulation of riches is so conspicuous that even television programmes are made extolling the virtues of the wealthy, Our Lord’s words, echoed by St. Paul, should always be for us a pointer to the Christians life: do not make a false god of anything.  There is only one God, and He and He alone is the only object worthy of our worship and adoration.  So let us hear what Jesus says and act upon it.

Amen

A PRAYER FOR OUR PARISH

Almighty God, you have made us members of Christ and of his Church in this parish. May we as a congregation reach upwards to your throne in worship and adoration: inwards to one another in understanding and fellowship; and outwards to the world in evangelism and social compassion. Make us like a city set on a hill whose light cannot be hidden, so that men and women may find Christ as the Light of the World, and his Church as the family of the redeemed, and eternal life as the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.

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