We are warned about the dangers of wealth (Luke 6):
Blessed are you who are poor: yours is the kingdom of God.
Alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now.
Henry Wansbrough OSB has this to say:
The stress is on the reversal of values brought by Jesus.
Jesus turns the world upside-down.
His gospel or ‘good news’ comes to the poor, the neglected, the oppressed. True blessedness does not consist in wealth, fame or festivities (Universalis).
St. John Henry Newman (1801-1890):
Wealth is one idol of the day and notoriety is a second.
Notoriety – it may be called ‘newspaper fame’ – has come to be considered a great good in itself, and a ground of veneration (CCC 1723).
Lumping wealth and notoriety (fame) together is quite helpful. We understand why things need to be turned upside-down, because we have turned things upside-down.
The reversal of values brought by Jesus is a return to values.
At a time of great material wealth, but profound spiritual crisis – not unlike our own – St. Benedict (480-547) wrote the Benedictine Rule. It is known for its moderation and balance.
Benedictines do not take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but vows of obedience, stability and conversion of life.
From the heart of the rule:
Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way.
Prefer nothing to the love of Christ (Chapter 4, 20-21).
Such an attitude puts wealth and fame in its place.
And attitudes lead to actions, don’t they just:
Relieve the lot of the poor, clothe the naked, visit the sick, bury the dead.
Go to help the troubled and console the sorrowing (Chapter 4, 14-19).
The idols of wealth and fame are rejected. The vulnerable are sought out and loved.
A recipe for social cohesion if ever there was one.