But why do you call me 'Lord, Lord' and do not do the things which I say?
--Jesus (Matthew 6:12)
Do not worry about your life, what you will eat;
--Jesus Christ (Luke 12:22, 30-31)
"No servant can serve two masters,
for either he will hate the one and love the other,
or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and money."
The Pharisees, who were lovers of money,
heard all these things, and they ridiculed Jesus.
So likewise, whoever of you
does not forsake all that he owns
cannot be My disciple.
--Jesus (Luke 14:33)
Blessed are you poor,
for yours is the Kingdom of God.
. . . . But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your credit.
--Jesus (Luke 6:24)
And as he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.
Then Jesus said to them,
"Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of people."
They immediately left their nets and followed him.
When he had gone a little farther from there, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets.
And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after him. (Mark 1:16-20)
After these things he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office.
And he said to him,
So he left all, rose up, and followed him.
Give to everyone who asks of you.
And from him who takes away your goods
do not ask them back.
And just as you want people to do to you,
you also do to them likewise.
. . . . And if you lend to those
from whom you hope to receive back,
what credit is that to you?
For even sinners [debtors] lend to sinners [debtors]
to receive as much back.
But love your enemies, do good,
and lend, hoping for nothing in return,
and your reward will be great,
and you will be Sons of the Most High.
For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.
--Jesus (Luke 6:30-31, 34-35)
Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?"
So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but One God.
You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witness,' 'Do not defraud,' 'Honor your father and your mother.'"
And he answered and said to Him, "Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth."
Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me."
But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!"
And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, "Who then can be saved?"
But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible."
Then Peter began to say to Him, "See, we have left all and followed You."
So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's,
who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time--houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions--and in the age to come, eternal life.
Listen, my beloved brethren:
Has not God chosen the poor of this world
to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom
which he promised to those who love him?
But you have dishonored the poor man.
Do not the rich oppress you
and drag you into the courts?
Do they not blaspheme
that Noble Name by which you are called?
He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully --
each one as he purposes in his heart,
not grudgingly or from obligation;
for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you,
-- Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
Come now, you rich, weep and howl
Your riches are corrupted,
Your gold and silver are corroded,
Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields,
You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury;
You have condemned,
Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,
and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,
giving Credit to God and having Grace with all the people. (Act 2:44-47)
Now the multitude of those who believed
...persons who are depraved in mind
and bereft of the truth,
imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
There is great gain in godliness with contentment;
for we brought nothing into the world,
and we cannot take anything out of the world;
but if we have food and clothing,
with these we shall be content.
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation,
into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires
that plunge men into ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is the root of all evil;
it is through this craving
that some have wandered away from the faith
and pierced their hearts with many pangs.
--Apostle Paul (1 Timothy 6:5-10)
Then Peter said,
"Silver and gold I do not have,
but what I do have I give you
For who makes you special?
And what do you have that was not gifted you?
Now if you, indeed, were gifted it,
why do you boast as if it weren't a gift?
(1 Corinthians 4:7)
I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.
Let your conduct be without covetousness;
be content with such things as you have.
For he himself has said,
"I will never leave you nor forsake you."
You might just be surprised what the droves of early Church Mothers and Fathers implored, unanimously:
Those who have endured the labors and dangers of the sea and then amass material riches, even when they have gained much desire more. They consider what they have at present to be nothing, and reach out for what they have not got. We, who have nothing that we desire, wish to acquire everything through God.
Those who wish to make room for the Lord must find pleasure not in private, but in common property…. Redouble your charity. For, on account of the things which each one of us possesses singly, wars exist, hatreds, discords, strifes among human beings, tumults, dissensions, scandals, sins, injustices, and murders. On what account? On account of those things which each of us possesses singly. Do we fight over the things we possess in common? We inhale this air in common with others, we all see the sun in common. Blessed therefore are those who make room for the Lord, so as not to take pleasure in private property. Let us therefore abstain from the possessions of private property—or from the love of it, if we cannot abstain from possession—and let us make room for the Lord.
I now come to the accusation that most of us are said to be poor; that is not to our shame, it is to our great credit. Men’s characters are strengthened by stringent circumstances, just as they are dissipated by luxurious living. Besides, can a man be poor if he is free from want, if he does not covet the belongings of others, if he is rich in the possession of God? Rather, he is poor who possesses much but still craves for more.
And so it is that when a man walks along a road, the lighter he travels, the happier he is; equally, on this journey of life, a man is more blessed if he does not pant beneath a burden of riches but lightens his load by poverty. Nevertheless, we would ask God for material goods if we considered them to be of use; without a doubt, He to whom the whole belongs would be able to concede us a portion. But we prefer to hold possessions in contempt than to hoard them: it is rather innocence that is our aspiration, it is rather patience that is our entreaty; our preference is goodness, not extravagance.
You are like one occupying a place in a theater, who should prohibit others from entering, treating that as one’s own which was designed for the common use of all.
Thank God for the things that I do not own.
Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. Everything passes away except God.
It is quite important to withdraw from all unnecessary cares and business, as far as compatible with the duties of one’s state of life, in order to enter the second mansion.
--Teresa of Ávila
“We who once took most pleasure in the means of increasing our wealth and property now bring what we have into a common fund and share with everyone in need.”
“And instead of the tithes which the law commanded, the Lord said to divide everything we have with the poor. And he said to love not only our neighbors but also our enemies, and to be givers and sharers not only with the good but also to be liberal givers toward those who take away our possessions.”
“Private property is the fruit of iniquity. I know that God has given us the use of goods, but only as far as is necessary; and he has determined that the use shall be common. The use of all things that are found in this world ought to be common to all men. Only the most manifest iniquity makes one say to another, ‘This belongs to me, that to you.’ Hence the origin of contention among men.”
“We who share one mind and soul obviously have no misgivings about community of goods.”
“It is absurd and disgraceful for one to live magnificently and luxuriously when so many are hungry…If one who takes the clothing off another is a thief, why give any other name to one who can clothe the naked and refuses to do so?The bread that you store up belongs to the hungry; the cloak that lies in your chest belongs to the naked; the gold that you have hidden in the ground belongs to the poor.” … “How can I make you realize the misery of the poor? How can I make you understand that your wealth comes from their weeping?”
“Nature has poured forth all things for the common use of all people. And God has ordained that all things should be produced that there might be food in common for all, and that the earth should be the common possession of all. Nature created common rights, but usurpation has transformed them into private rights…God gave the same earth to be cultivated by all. Since, therefore, His bounty is common, how is it that you have so many fields, and your neighbor not even a clod of earth?”
You are not making a gift of your possession to the poor person. You are handing over to him what is his.
“The rich are in possession of the goods of the poor, even if they have acquired them honestly or inherited them legally.”
“Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours but theirs.”
“When you are weary of praying and do not receive, consider how often you have heard a poor man calling, and have not listened to him.”
“The dispersion of property is the cause of greater expenditure and so of poverty. Consider a household with husband and wife and ten children. She does weaving and he goes to the market to make a living; will they need more if they live in a single house or when they live separately? Clearly, when they live separately. If the ten sons each go his own way, they need ten houses, ten tables, ten servants and everything else in proportion… Dispersion regularly leads to waste, bringing together leads to economy.”
“Give away these earthly things, and win that which is in heaven. Give that which you must leave, even against your will, that you may not lose things later. Lend your wealth to God, that you may be really rich. Concerning the way in which to lend it, Jesus next teaches us saying: ‘Sell your possessions, and give alms, provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail’ … Worldly wealth has many foes … but no one can do damage to the wealth that is laid up above in heaven.”
“All things belong to God, who is our Father and Father of all things. We are all the same family: all of us are brothers and sisters. And among brethren it is best and most equal that all inherit equal portions.”
“Share everything with your brother. Do not say, ‘It is private property.’ If you share what is everlasting, you should be that much more willing to share things which do not last.”
At his departure the apostle must receive nothing except food to last till the next night's lodging; but if he asks for money, he is a false prophet.
“What deceived many was a blind attachment to their patrimony, and if they were not free and ready to take themselves away, it was because their property held them in chains . . . chains which shackled their courage and choked their faith and hampered their judgment and throttled their souls… And our Lord, the teacher of the good, looking to the future warning us against this, saying: ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ If the rich would do this, riches would not be their ruin; if they stored up their treasure in heaven, they would not have an enemy and a thief within their own household; their heart and thought and care would be in heaven, if their treasure lay in heaven: no man could be overcome by the world if he had nothing in the world to overcome him. He would follow our Lord untrammeled and free as the apostles and many others did at that time, and some have often done since, leaving their parents and possessions behind to bind themselves inseparably to Christ. But how can those who are tethered to their inheritance be following Christ?And can those who are weighed down by earthly desires be seeking heaven and aspiring to the heights above? They think of themselves as owners, whereas it is they rather who are owned: enslaved as they are to their own property, they are not the masters of their money but its slaves. The apostle was pointing to our times and to these very men he said: ‘Those who want to be rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.’ On the other hand, what rewards does not our Lord hold out as He invites us to scorn the property we have! For the small, insignificant losses of this world, what rich compensation He makes!”
And, the testimony of a Roman pagan:
“Christians despise all possessions and share them mutually.”
Last but not least, Meister Eckhart:
...As long as we do any work at all for gain,
as long as we desire anything
God may have given or may give,
we rank with those traders.
Would you be free from any taint of trading with God?
Then do what good you can
and do it solely for God's glory,
as free from it yourself
as though you did not exist.
Ask nothing whatever in return.
Done in this way,
your works are spiritual and godly.
The traders are driven from the temple
and God is there alone
when one has no motive but God.
See your temple cleared of traders.
The man who is intent on God alone,
and on God's glory,
is truly free from any taint of commerce in his deeds,
nor is he self-seeking in any way!
We must learn to remove from all God's gifts to us
the sense of our own self,
to possess nothing of our own and to seek nothing,
neither advantage nor pleasure
nor inwardness nor sweetness
nor reward nor heaven itself
nor our own will.
God never has entered,
nor ever does enter someone through their own will,
but only through his own will.
And so whereever he finds his own will,
there he gives himself
and enters in with all that is his.
The more we strip ourselves of ourselves,
the more we become Him.
Therefore it is not enough
that we should give up ourselves
and all that we possess
and all of which we are capable
on one occasion alone;
Rather, we must renew this act frequently
and thus make ourselves simple
and free in all things.
--Meister Eckhart, Talks of Instruction
As far as you depart from all things,
thus far, no less and no more,
does God enter into you,
with all that is his...
--Meister Eckhart, Talks of Instruction
I Am Who I Am, the Way, the Truth, and the Life: Name Above All Names
The Seven-Headed Dragon: World Commerce
See what the Old Testament says about greed, money and possessions.
Jesus the Christ & desert rat
Qumran cave of the Judaean desert
John the Baptizer & desert rat
Melania the Younger (383-439CE)
renounced all her wealth
to give to the poor
Syncletica of Alexandria (died 350CE)
renounce all her wealth
to give to the poor
St Francis in the Desert
by Bellini, 1525
St Francis hanging out at his cave