VATICAN CITY, OCT. 20, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II warned against the temptation of those who think that money can buy everything, and reminded pilgrims that wealth serves for nothing in the grave.
The Pope dedicated his weekly general audience, which attracted 19,000 people, to comment on Psalm 48(49). The Psalm highlights the “vanity of riches,” an issue that Jesus addressed on several occasions.
“For all their riches mortals do not abide; they perish like the beasts,” the Psalm says.
“In other words, ‘great wealth’ is not an advantage, in fact! It is better to be poor and to be united to God,” the Holy Father added today.
The Pope had to make quite an effort to read his address, which he began with a weak voice, although later it became stronger and clearer.
The Holy Father read some paragraphs of the prepared text and at the end of the catechesis greeted pilgrims, gathered in St. Peter’s Square, in 11 languages.
“A profound blindness takes hold of a man when he believes he will avoid death, being determined to accumulate material goods,” he warned in his catechesis.
“The topic has also been explored by all cultures and all spiritualities and was expressed in an essential and definitive manner by Jesus,” he said. The Pope quoted the famous question: “What will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?”
The rich man is convinced “that he will succeed even in ‘buying’ death for himself, trying to corrupt it, as he has done with all other things he has acquired, namely success, triumph over others in the social and political realm, lying with impunity, avarice, comfort, pleasures,” John Paul II said.
It is a foolish illusion, he said. “Like all men and women, rich and poor, wise and foolish, he will have to go to the grave, as has happened to the powerful and he will have to leave on earth that much loved gold, those material goods so idolized.”
The Holy Father ended his address quoting St. Ambrose of Milan, who reminded the faithful that God “promises pardon with the generosity of his mercy, so that the guilty one will no longer have fear but, with full awareness, rejoice to be able to offer himself as servant of the good Lord, who has forgiven sins and rewarded virtues.”
With this reflection, the Pope continued with the series of commentaries on the Psalms and canticles that make up vespers, the evening prayer of the Church. Other commentaries may be read in the Wednesday’s Audience section of ZENIT’s Web page.