Who is Your Master? God or Mammon
Who is Your Master? God or Mammon
In less than three weeks our nation will celebrate its most important national holiday on July 4th. Independence Day commemorates the Founding Fathers of the United States declaration of autonomous rule separate from Great Britain that occurred in 1776. The spirit of this event lives on today in most citizens of our country. Few of us want to be ruled by someone else. The early leaders said: “There will be no taxation without representation.” They wanted to elect their own leaders. It’s still true today. Our national anthem refers to America as “the land of the free.” We are not ruled by any foreign power.
However, from a different perspective, we are not free. We are all slaves. Why is that? Because if we are true Christians, followers of Christ, disciples of Jesus, and servants of the Lord--then we are slaves of God. We are not free. But that’s a good thing. Because, if we are atheists or if we are Christians in name only, sleep-walking, lazy, lukewarm Christians, then we are someone else’s slave. We are still not free. We are never really free as we like to think of freedom in worldly terms.
In today’s Gospel reading, from the Third Sunday of Matthew (6:22-33), Jesus tells His disciples: “No one can serve two masters” (v.24). We often don’t think of it, but implicit in His statement, Jesus is saying that everyone has a master. Now someone could say, “I have not master. I do what I want to do. No one tells me what to do.” But if this is the case, then who really is your master? You! Many people think they’re free because, as they say, “I’m my own boss.” But, if you are your own boss, then that means Christ can never be your boss. Why? As Jesus explains in the same verse, 24“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. If you love being your own boss, then you will hate Jesus. If you’re loyal to yourself, then you will despise Christ.
Some might say, “Well, wait a minute. Jesus is my master when I pray and go to church and worship and volunteer to help people.” This may be true, but the problem is when these are the only times when Christ rules our life. Some of us think we can literally divide our loyalties in this life. After all, that’s what secular society is all about. At any moment we can serve the master of choice. When in church or with church people, I serve God. When I’m studying, I serve the school. When I’m working, I serve my company or my superior and so on. Jesus says this is impossible. “No one can serve two masters.” Why? Because, the nature of humanity is to love one thing more than another. This is reflected in nearly every aspect of our life. Every time we make a choice, about anything, we are expressing our devotion to one thing over another. A part-time master is no master at all.
Our Lord says “You cannot serve God and mammon” (v.24). What is mammon? Mammon is earthly goods with a stress on their materialistic character. Jesus is posing a question to each one of us: Who is your master? God or mammon? Before you answer and I know all of us want to answer “God”, let us examine the issue more closely. One way to determine who or what you love the most is to see who you are loyal to. In other words, when presented with a choice between God and something/anything else, what do you choose? Let me go through the litany again, do you choose to attend church on Sunday or do something else like sleep in, run errands, do chores, go to work, study, play sports, spend time with family or friends, etc. The same question can be asked regarding prayer, reading the bible, serving others, giving alms, and financially supporting the church and its mission. Do you choose do these or something else? And even if you do choose them, how often and how much, at what level?
Another way to determine who is your master, God or mammon, is to realize what you worry about? What do you fret over? How do you look? How much money do you make in a year? How big is your house? Where do you live? What kind of car do you drive? Your social status? Your popularity? And on and on. Jesus lays bare the vanity of all these types of worries when He says not to worry even about what you eat, drink or wear. Come on Lord, can’t I be concerned about the most basic needs of life food, water, clothing? No, you cannot if God is your master.
However, Jesus tells us: 25“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
30Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
God knows what you need. Don’t worry! Jesus says worrying does not accomplish anything.
Implicit in Jesus’ teaching is that we should only worry about our eternal salvation in order to motivate us to do the very things that God has commanded us to do. Everything else is up to Him. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
If God is Your Master then you will seek first, in every situation and moment of life, His kingdom and His righteousness. You will go first to Liturgy on Sunday, every Sunday, before doing anything else. You will, each day of your life, pray, read the scripture, serve others, forgive others, and repent among other things. You will each day endeavor to be honest, use good language, not gossip, not steal, not be jealous, be sexually pure, honor your parents, rest, and not injure or hurt. You will generously and sacrificially financially and otherwise support your parish community. You will partake in the Sacrament of Confession, having fallen short in many if not all of these.
Our problem, and it applies to everyone, is we think we cannot afford to do all these things and still be good and productive parents, spouses, children, friends, workers, citizens, and athletes. This is true and false. True in the sense that we cannot be the best or better from the world’s perspective. That will be sacrificed and lost. False in that, if we seek God and His kingdom and His righteousness first, we will be exactly who He wants us to be, which in turn, will make us better at all of these from His perspective. And that is all that matters when we talk about eternal salvation, right?
If there is any doubt about where our loyalty should be, listen to what Jesus said in Friday’s Gospel passage:
32“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
34“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ (Matthew 10)
In Saturday, yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus says it in a different way:
24“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
In conclusion, when we approach the Holy Chalice to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, the priest says, “The servant/slave (o doulos or h doule) of God receives…” Ask yourself, am I really a slave of God? Is God really my master? What do I need to change in my life in order to become His slave and for Him to become my Master? Then humbly ask for Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to give you the courage and the guidance to change, to repent. Then try as hard as you can each day to serve the Lord Jesus Christ for the glory of God. Amen!