Soulless things…”wherever your treasure lies…” -Mt 6:21

-by Br Philip Nolan, OP

“Money is a soulless thing. It has no life of its own. Here and now, we use money to meet our needs, to support our families, to help the poor, to serve the Church. Soulless things serve things with souls. Money serves its purpose in this life and has no purpose in the next.

Money takes its meaning from human life. It also, in some small way, reveals the shape of our lives to us. Someone could probably put together a decent picture of our interests, our concerns—our life—by looking at all the purchases we have made over the past decade. If we consider how we spend money, we have some insight into our hearts: “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Mt 6:21). Our hearts go out to the things they treasure. How we spend money shows, in part, how we spend ourselves.

We can only spend what we have. In order to spend money, we have to have money. In order to spend ourselves, we have to possess ourselves. If we are slaves “to impurity and to lawlessness for lawlessness” (Rm 6:19), we do not possess ourselves. If we are governed by the many wayward desires, great and small, that course through our body and soul everyday, we do not possess ourselves. And if we do not possess ourselves, we cannot truly spend ourselves.

But we have been “purchased at a price” (1 Cor 6:20) from our slavery in order that we might be free: “for freedom Christ has set us free” (Gal 1:5). We have been freed from the reign of death, from the worship of mammon, in order that we might live a new life of freedom. We still feel the mark of the bonds; we still feel the inclination to obey our old masters. But we are free. We can say no to them. If we fail, we can begin again in our new way. The price has been paid. We claim the freedom won on our behalf.

This new life does not stockpile graces. Saint Paul tells the Corinthians that he will “most gladly spend and be spent for [their] souls” (2 Cor 12:15 ESV). To spend and be spent: this is the joy of the disciple. One whose possession of his own life does not spill over into the lives of others is “one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God” (Lk 12:21). The disciple spends himself, not for the soulless things of this world, but for others’ souls. Souls are what matter to God. We rejoice when we are “poured out as a libation” (Phil 2:17), for then we share in the self-spending of our Savior.

We have been purchased that we may be free. We are free that we may spend ourselves. How we spend ourselves and our money says something about who we are. We possess soulless things of this world in order to serve the things that have souls. The order in the world is clear and true and worth living by. After all, “what profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life” (Mk 8:36)?”

Love & joy,