COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
There is this passage in the gospel where Jesus displayed apparent anger when upon entering Jerusalem, he found people buying and selling inside the temple. In an instant, he drove away the merchants and overthrew the tables of the money-changers and seats of those selling doves.
That incident represents to me a certain reality that faces every Christian today, the reality of being placed between two opposing forces—material and spiritual—juxtaposed to the extreme. For it is written that “no man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” By mammon, it means money.
Jesus must have foreseen what power money will have on men, as what it does today. It is a hand that rules the world over, unwittingly enslaving man to its strange forces. One can literally pay his way to almost everything in life from birth to death with money.
Money at all forms makes one self-sufficient that one forgets God. On the other hand, money is the cause for various crimes and the breakdown of man’s moral fiber that one starts to ask if God does exist.
This predicament is a result of a society that places so much power on money in a desperate attempt towards economic equality. Almost everything in this world from soil, water, to air has now acquired monetary value. As a consequence, man has ceased to be a creature of God but has become an economic variable; as good as his latest income tax return.
As with some periods in the past, rewards in life were not standardized. The nobility had honor and status, the gentry owned the land, the merchants with their money got their trinkets, and the rest of the flock held labor in their hands.
But now, money talks. One cannot wage war, win in court, and bury the dead without money. Men kill and forsake their hard-earned reputations and careers for money. Women sell their bodies and souls in strange lands and in their own for money. And the children, in the most inconceivable of ways are exploited for money.
Indeed, if God is said to move mountains, money does not only move mountains but levels them, relocates them, and creates a water dam in their place. Nothing is held sacred anymore, not even money with all its powers—you can sell it for an interest.
So as it was in the temple, Jesus portrayed a picture of a world man has made; of consumerism, of materialism, and the consequent catastrophe that ensued with the desecration of the earth.
When Christ became man, he made God a living daily reality to men. Thus, we have spirituality sustained. God is Spirit and the New Testament is very explicit in its pronouncements saying: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance….” If these fruits are not found in our lives today, it may be because we are not of the Spirit, we are not of God.
We are of mammon.