Friday, September 16, 2011

Memorial of Saint Cornelius, pope and martyr, and Saint Cyprian, bishop and martyr

(I Timothy 6:2c-12; Luke 8:1-3)

A cartoon shows a fat corporate executive describing a recent business decision. “It was a matter,” he says, “of either losing a friend or losing money.” No doubt is left as to which of the two the tycoon values more.

However, the New Testament repeatedly indicates that money makes a poor substitue for a friend. In Luke’s gospel Jesus often warns against the accumulation of wealth although, as today’s passage indicates, he and his disciples had needs which the women’s money met. Perhaps Scripture is nowhere more wary of money than in the first reading. We should note, however, that First Timothy does not condemn money itself as the root of evil but “the love of money.”

Should charities accept money from patently sinful sources? Much good can be done with so-called tainted money, but then virtue’s kissing vice leaves many people morally bewildered. Scandal must be avoided, but at times thieves may make reparation for their crimes by privately reciprocating institutions that care for the needy.