Jesus' message is at complete odds with the teaching of the world. The word we hear around us day in and day out is 'Get secure. Pile up as many possessions as you can. Money may not be everything, but it can certainly buy everything.' To this, Jesus says: "Get purses for yourselves that do not wear out, a never-failing treasure with the Lord which no thief comes near nor any moth destroys." (Luke 12:33) Of course, he was speaking of the kingdom of God. "Seek first," he urges us, "the kingdom of God." (Matthew 6:33)
His well-known word - "It is easier for a camel to pass through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," (Matthew 19:24) - seems to leave little room for guesswork as to what he is saying about the life-style that befits a follower of his.
"If we are to be honest with ourselves, we are going to have to conclude, I am convinced, that the material standards by which we in the Western world live are unrealistic and probably immoral."
A few years ago, I read a report saying that 87% of the world's resources were being consumed by 14% of the world's population. The report included a prediction that, by the 1990's, a greater percentage of resources would be required, at the present rate of development, by a smaller percentage of people. In 1981, the United States of America alone, comprising a mere 6% of the population of the world, consumed 33% of the world's resources. These statistics, as we know, refer to us in the so-called first world. This has to be turned around. It is a situation that cries to Heaven for redress. We ourselves have to do something about it. It means, for all of us in the 'have' nations, moving to simpler and simpler standards of living. Somebody is going to have to lead the way. Are the Companions of the Cross to be somewhere in the vanguard? We think so.
There is a strong and consistent New Testament word about money. St. Paul writes to Timothy: "If we have food and clothing, we have all we need. Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and a trap. They are letting themselves be captured by foolish and harmful desires which drag men down to ruin and destruction. The love of money is the root of all evil. Some men, in their passion for it, have strayed from the faith and have come to grief amid great pain." (1 Timothy 6:8-10) Again, we read: "Do not love money, but be content with what you have. For God has said - 'I will never desert you, nor will I forsake you'." (Hebrews 13:5) It is an echo of the same message form the Old Testament. "The just man's few possessions," the psalmist assures us, "are better than the wicked man's wealth." (Psalm 37:16) The word is a challenge for us all.