Then the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and worshiped the Baals; and they abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; they followed other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were all around them, and bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger. They abandoned the Lord, and worshiped Baal and the Astartes. So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers who plundered them, and he sold them into the power of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies. Whenever they marched out, the hand of the Lord was against them to bring misfortune, as the Lord had warned them and sworn to them; and they were in great distress.
Then the Lord raised up judges, who delivered them out of the power of those who plundered them. Yet they did not listen even to their judges; for they lusted after other gods and bowed down to them. They soon turned aside from the way in which their ancestors had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord; they did not follow their example. Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he delivered them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord would be moved to pity by their groaning because of those who persecuted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they would relapse and behave worse than their ancestors, following other gods, worshiping them and bowing down to them. They would not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.
Psalm 106:34-37, 39-40, 43, 44
They did not destroy the peoples,
as the Lord commanded them,
but they mingled with the nations
and learned to do as they did.
They served their idols,
which became a snare to them.
They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to the demons;
Thus they became unclean by their acts,
and prostituted themselves in their doings.
Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people,
and he abhorred his heritage;
Many times he delivered them,
but they were rebellious in their purposes.
Nevertheless he regarded their distress
when he heard their cry.
Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
After the young man asks his question, desiring to perform some outstanding act to win eternal life, Jesus tells him that he has been given the law of Moses to perform. Living the commandments is a daily commitment that will lead him to eternal life. But the young man feels he is already accomplished in obedience to the commandments. He wants to be outstanding.
Jesus tells him how to become perfect. The way to follow Jesus more closely means that he must cling to the true riches and forsake the false ones that do not lead to life. Wealth is given to us to manage and not merely enjoy. We do not use it to earn heaven, but to be God’s hands of blessing to others. When we obey the commandment to love God with all our heart, mind and soul, we will surely commit no murder, will not covet or steal, but will see that all things belong to God and our delight will be in serving Him and in giving more of ourselves and what we possess to God’s work.
Though we are not good, and only God is good, we can use giving to break away from idols. Giving causes us to depend more and trust more on God. Charitable giving makes us evangelists, revealing God’s mercy to the poor and drawing others into the Kingdom of God.
Though we may not be called to sell everything we own to give to the poor and follow God as those in religious orders, perfection in the Spirit is going to demand a response that detaches us from the things of the world and the flesh. It detaches us from having control, using money to work our will rather than God’s Will, or allow us to feel superior.
Today, consider your own attachment to money or things. Do you tithe and give alms? Remember that giving money to the poor is an easy way to detach from idols of wealth and the world, and to attach to Jesus in a greater way.