On being rich


How does the Catholic Church interpret Mark 10:21 which states “Go out, sell all you have, and give to the poor?” Did Jesus condemn wealth and/or the wealthy?


Jesus never condemned wealth or the wealthy.

He did however say that wealth is an impediment to salvation.

He did not define exactly what He considered being rich.

Conversely, Jesus lauded those who give to others from their need and said those giving despite their own needs are more blessed than those giving from their abundance.


This is how I have explained that specific instance as recorded in the Gospel, the story of Jesus and the Rich Man:

The Rich Man, he and he alone, had the opportunity to converse with God himself and ask God what HE (HE the Rich Man) should do with HIS life. This is not to suggest that what Jesus said could not have deeper meaning perhaps to a broad swath of people but I have constantly heard throughout my life that this is a call for everyone to literally do what Jesus says.

Do you know about the scripture that says “money is the root of all evil?”

That is a trick question as it says, “the love of money is the root of all evil.” This is a prime related example of how people can take a scripture verse completely out of context if not alter its meaning altogether. If nothing else the Rich Man story should lead us to detachment, I believe this to be the underlying message.


Here is your application: The more you own, the more owns you. All your possessions require your time, energy and resources to maintain. The two dominant gods in the USA are the god of materialism (stuff) and the god of hedonism (pleasure). It took me many years to truly understand that less in more. Fewer things and less debt results in a lighter, more content and free life.:smiley:


:thumbsup: Truer words were never spoken.


Jesus sometimes commands things not as universally appropriate but as actions we must always be willing/ready to do if, in that instance, appropriate. Take, for example, “do not resist an evil person” (Mt 5:39); the Church teaches that it is not only sometimes permissible to resist evil but an outright duty to which we are bound in charity. But *if *we have no one else to protect *and *non-resistance will also be most loving (sometimes even the offender benefits from being resisted!), then Jesus’ saying comes into play. The same holds true for selling all our property; we should be detached enough to be willing to do it if/when appropriate, but there are many instances in which it is not the right thing to do.


Wealth is not the problem; the problem is ATTACHMENT to wealth, loving your stuff more than you love God, and that is what He condemns.


Thanks everybody!


Wealth isn’t a sin it can just impede on a person being able to receive true joy, and it’s definitely an obstacle to spiritual growth.

If giving away wealth were the end-all-be-all, then it would inadvertently be saying that materialism is supremely important, as the socialist ideologies of the 19th century (and 20th century) did. It is a facet of Christianity that wealth does not provide true joy, but giving stuff away isn’t the core of the religion, but rather a byproduct.


I might disagree to some extent here.

I take Joseph Pieper ( I think) stance, that Jesus is in some sense talking to everyone here and there is a literal angle (although that does not exhaust the meaning) inasmuch as, we must all be ready at any given moment to take all we have, sell it, and the give the money to the poor, if we think that we are one of those Jesus calls to do so.

You can keep your stuff, but you have to be ready to part with it the moment Jesus calls you to do so.


Well put! you are exactly right, and people keep right on working 60+ hours a week, and some still have problems making ends meets, for most, life is a constant strive for money, to either pay off debt or save to purchase something, its rare to find anyone who is content with only the basics and chooses to do other things with their lives.

I dont think it is coincidence that this is the norm in the modern world either, its all done to draw us further away from what really matters, most fall for it hook line and sinker.

I also notice many trying to justify wealth, usually by various interpretations of certain verses, I think this is done so people can feel somewhat happy just continuing on leading the types of lives they like to lead, they like calling themselves christians, or religious, but its only to a certain extent, only willing to go so far, as long as it does not interfere too much with their ‘normal, modern lifestyles’…but this is normal in modern times, its done over a wide range of issues/ topics, using certain verses and applying different interpretations, just about anything can be justified.


Jesus rejected the rich young ruler.

He considered being rich an imperfection which keeps people from being with him.

Jesus used the parable of Lazarus, and condemned the rich man. Since the rich man was comfortable, he was sent to hell.

Jesus praised the poor widow for giving away her last pennies. That’s what he expects from us.

No wonder I can’t get close to Christ. I am a married man working for a living in the USA, so I’m doomed.


Bob, Jesus didn’t reject the rich young man, he just gave him more space and time to explore round the many issues. That sounds generous to me. After all, he was young. (Some commentators have identified him with one of Jesus’ later followers.)

He didn’t condemn the rich man in the parable. By telling this He is flagging up the eventual hazards of us starting to go down the path of neglecting others.

Everywhere Jesus extols the prudence of using wealth to look after those who need looking after.

That doesn’t exclude ourselves. The widow trusted God’s providence so much she gave away extra - but how we go about trusting Him is usually totally up to our discretion!

Hoping this helps! :slight_smile:


Who is the wealthiest saint?


Here this will help from the Catechism: scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a0.htm


For example:


2544 Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them “renounce all that [they have]” for his sake and that of the Gospel.335 Shortly before his passion he gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on.336 The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of heaven.

2545 All Christ’s faithful are to "direct their affections rightly, lest they be hindered in their pursuit of perfect charity by the use of worldly things and by an adherence to riches which is contrary to the spirit of evangelical poverty."337

2546 "Blessed are the poor in spirit."338 The Beatitudes reveal an order of happiness and grace, of beauty and peace. Jesus celebrates the joy of the poor, to whom the Kingdom already belongs:339

The Word speaks of voluntary humility as "poverty in spirit"; the Apostle gives an example of God's poverty when he says: "For your sakes he became poor."340 

2547 The Lord grieves over the rich, because they find their consolation in the abundance of goods.341 "Let the proud seek and love earthly kingdoms, but blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven."342 Abandonment to the providence of the Father in heaven frees us from anxiety about tomorrow.343 Trust in God is a preparation for the blessedness of the poor. They shall see God.



This is how I interpret this parable.

Jesus is not telling everyone single person that they have to sell everything they have or else we will go to hell. He is telling it to this one man specifically. At face value it may seem like He is being unreasonable or too strict, but I feel that He is just saying it like it is, being brutally honest so to speak. “If you want to go to Heaven, you must sell all your things to the poor and follow me.” Now, if the rich man was doing nothing wrong with his money than why would he be unable to go to Heaven? It seems like this rich man couldn’t handle his extreme wealth while ALSO remaining faithful, and so Jesus told him that he won’t be able to enter Heaven if he keeps going on the way he was.

However, if you handle your wealth in a good respectful manner, than I assume you would be alright. Just don’t become too obsessed with wealth that you lose track of your faith.

I’m gonna give you an example. If I watch a TV show, and for whatever reason it causes me to sin every time… I should avoid watching it, at least up until I gain control of the situation. However, just because it causes me to sin, doesn’t mean everyone who watches it will be led to sin, so should they have to stop watching the show as well? Of course not. Just because I can’t handle watching the show, doesn’t mean everyone else can’t either, so only I need to avoid it.

This could go for a lot of things. If a friend is leading you down a bad path, than you should limit the amount of time you spend with him/her, etc.


Have to remember that the Church has always had wealthy benefactors from its earliest days. Joseph of Arimathea, for instance. He had sufficient influence with Pontius Pilate to get permission to take Jesus’ body to his own tomb for a proper burial, not to mention the wealth necessary to have already purchased that tomb for himself. Further, many early services were held in wealthy people’s homes. So it is important to distinguish between having money and loving money, to understand that the two are not the same concept. Recall the 10th Commandment as well, which tells us not to covet our neighbor’s belongings.


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