Tuesday, July 1, 2014
No to the idolatry of money
El Bloc de Cristianisme i Justícia
June 23, 2014
The systematic atheism of the 19th and early 20th century seems to have been drifting into various forms of practical idolatry. There are many people, even among Christians who, although they don't admit it, worship idols. Among the various forms of modern idolatry (power, pleasure, consumption, the body, sports, science and technology, homeland, political party ...) perhaps the most widespread and severe is the idolatry of money, as Pope Francis points out in his exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (no. 55). This is the new golden calf (Ex 32:1-35) that is embodied in the fetishism of money, in the dictatorship of a faceless economy that puts finance before human needs.
It's an old temptation. The ancient Roman poets criticized the hunger for "sacred money" and the Letter to the Ephesians says that the greedy are like idolaters (Eph. 5:5).
And like any idol, money has its shrines, its priests, its requirements that even include human sacrifices. What else but human sacrifices offered to the idol of the money god are the victims of the current financial crisis in traditionally rich countries (the evicted, the millions of people and youth without work...), the victims of the multinationals in Africa, Asia, and Latin America (hunger, infant mortality, millions of "surplus and discarded" people...), the victims of war and the arms trade (deaths of innocent people, violence, millions of displaced persons and refugees...), the victims of exploitation and human trafficking (prostitution, sale of organs, inhumane jobs...), the victims of lack of schools (illiteracy...), the victims of drug trafficking (drug addiction with all its evil consequences...), the destruction of the environment sacrificed to economic interests, etc...?
Idols do not allow us to see reality or adhere to human values; they're limited to "what's in it for me."
Before this new form of idolatry, we must remember the words of the Sermon on the Mount: "No one can serve two masters,...God and Mammon ("money")" (Mt 6:24), that is, you can't serve the God of life and the god of death. The economy must be at the service of the common good with special sensitivity to the poor. Finance must be guided by pro-people ethics that block inequality and remedy inequality and poverty.
If we Christians aren't aware of this problem, if we don't denounce it, if we don't oppose it, if we don't act against it, we will fall into what Francis calls "spiritual worldliness", that is, people who under the appearance of goodness and spiritual practices, deep down are worldly and worship the money god.
To break the fetishistic and idolatrous attraction of the money god, we must allow ourselves to be moved by the plight of the victims of this idol. Through the wailing of the human victims and also through the groaning of the earth, the Spirit of the Lord is crying out for justice.