The Perspective of Justice

Being Successful

We Christians tend to gloss over the most startling one-liners passed down to us from Jesus such as the one that closes today’s Gospel: “None of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his possessions.”

The statement shocks, and yet it reflects that basic human wisdom which tells us that “the corruptible body burdens the soul and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns.”

The issue, then, is true freedom, the ability to follow Onesimus (Second Reading) out of slavery. The other issue involved here is true worship, the question of priority in our lives: who or what is more important. God or our possessions?

Today’s liturgy encourages us to put God first, to long for God “like a deer that longs for running streams,” and to recognize that “in every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.”

It is not evil to want God to prosper the work of our hands. It is evil to make a god of creatures and to replace worship of the true God with worship of worldly possessions.

It is not merely a matter of ‘giving from one’s surplus,’ but of helping entire peoples, who are presently excluded or marginalized, to enter into the sphere of economic and human development.

For this to happen, it is not enough to draw on the surplus goods which in fact our world abundantly produces; it requires above all a change of lifestyles, of models of production and consumption, and of the established structures of power which today govern societies

There are some people—the few who possess much—who do not really succeed in ‘being’ because, through a reversal of the hierarchy of values, they are hindered by the cult of having …

The evil does not consist in ‘having’ as such, but in possessing without regard for the quality and the ordered hierarchy of the goods one has.

Quality and hierarchy arise from the subordination of goods and their availability to man’s ‘being’ and his true vocation.

(Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis,1987: 28


Gerald Darring

Now published in book form, To Love and Serve: Lectionary Based Meditations, by Gerald Darring This entire three year cycle is available at


**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson