|"Those who set out to serve God and mammon soon discover there is no God."|
-- Logan Pearsall Smith
In the Gospel of Matthew, the oil that so exercised the Apostles is not given a specific worth. In the Gospel of Mark, however, the amount is fixed at "300 day's wages," as the NABRE puts it, or, literally, 300 denarii. That is indeed a large amount. We know this because in John's account of the feeding of the multitude, lunch for five thousand men plus their women and children was greater than 200 day's wages could purchase.
So, it seems reasonable to imagine that 300 day's wages would have covered it, according to Philip's cautious estimate. Which just happens to be the value of the costly oil poured on Jesus' head. The oil that caused such indignation on behalf of the poor.
The oil for Jesus' head was worth 300 denarii. Coincidentally, the price of feeding 5000 poor plus their women and children was also 300 denarii. The Bear suspects this is not a coincidence.
Perhaps your parish priest told you in his homily that Jesus did not perform a miracle at all. Perhaps he slyly suggested the boy's example led everyone in the crowd to bring out their secret lunches and share with those around them. Why do priests wish to join the Roman soldiers in mocking Christ's divinity? When did Our Lord's miracles become a scandal to them? If they cannot accept the feeding of the 5000, how do they accept the Resurrection? The Bear thinks he knows the answer and he trembles.
In these three little essays on the costly oil, the hungry poor, and, now, the 300 denarii, we have have been pondering a Church that cannot abide a divine Jesus. That has forgotten her supernatural mission. This has been most pronounced in the current papacy.
|Pope Francis' Goal: "To solve the problem of poverty."|
Had the apostles prevailed and the costly oil been sold for the poor, 5000 men, plus their women and children, might somewhere have been given a meal. Where would the next meal have come from? "The poor you will always have with you." But there are those in the Church who would rather withhold the costly oil from Christ's head and make him a liar by turning the Church into an engine to "solve the problem of poverty" (Laudato, Si, 27).
More importantly, had Jesus attempted to "solve the problem of poverty" by material means, and had fed those people out of the purse, there would have been no opportunity for the miracle. It is the miracle that ultimately leads to the sublime Bread of Life discourse in John 6. The two are connected. Here Jesus is emphatic. He did not come to deliver earthly bread, even to the hungry. He came to bring down heavenly bread, even to the dying.
“No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." Matthew 6:24. One does not have to amass great personal wealth to serve mammon. Mammon is satisfied so long as your eyes are fixed on it, even if on behalf of others.
Which master are our churchmen great and small serving? What kind of Church are they making for us?