A day after returning to Rome from his weeklong trip to Canada, Pope Francis on Sunday reflected on the dangers of coveting wealth and possessions.
In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus responds to a man who wants his brother to share his inheritance with him. “Take care to guard against all greed,” Jesus tells the crowd, “for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions” (Lk. 12:15).
The Holy Father noted that rather than entering into the details of the man’s situation, he “goes to the root of the divisions caused by the possession of things”: covetousness.
“What is covetousness? It is the unbridled greed for possessions, always desiring to be rich,” the pope said, speaking to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square before the weekly recitation of the Angelus.
“This is an illness that destroys people, because the hunger for possessions creates an addiction. Above all, those who have a lot are never content, they always want more, and only for themselves. But this way, the person is no longer free: he or she is attached to, a slave, of what paradoxically was meant to serve them so as to live freely and serenely,” Pope Francis warned.
“Rather than being served by money, the person becomes a servant of money.”
The pope identified covetousness as a “dangerous illness for society as well,” pointing to the greed that fuels wars and in particular the “scandal” of the arms trade.
“And so, let us try to ask ourselves: Where am I at with my detachment from possessions, from wealth?” the pope asked. “Do I complain about what I lack, or do I know how to be content with what I have? In the name of money or opportunity, am I tempted to sacrifice relationships and sacrifice time with others? And yet again, does it happen that I sacrifice legality and honesty on the altar of covetousness?”
The pope next shifted to focus on the “richness” of God.
“And so, we might think, so, no one should desire to get rich? Certainly, you can; rather, it is right to want it. It is beautiful to become rich, but rich according to God! God is the richest of anyone,” he said.