Lawrence of Arabia and the Love of Money

October 9, 2021

"People may be wealthy without clinging to their goods."


We often hear that money is the root of all evil, but is it?

In the 1962 film “Lawrence of Arabia,” British Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence is sent to Arabia to serve as a liaison between the Arabs and the British in their fight against the Turks. The Arabs are tribal and are just beginning to develop a sense of an Arab nation. Part of Lawrence's challenge is to get chieftain Auda ibu Tayi to fight with the Arabs against the Turks even though the Turks pay Auda a great deal of money.

Lawrence wounds Auda's pride by suggesting that Auda is a servant of the Turks for “It is the servant who takes money.”

Auda is incensed by this suggestion and responds with a list of feats meant to show his prowess as a great warrior. But he concludes by saying, “The Turks pay me a golden treasure yet I am poor, because I am a river to my people!”

The money is nothing to Auda, it all goes to his people. He provides for all their needs, like a river.

Like all the gifts that God gives, wealth, an excess of goods beyond what one needs, is given to some for the benefit of others. Wealth itself is not the problem. The problem is an attachment to wealth that prevents one from using God's gifts as they are meant to be used.

When Jesus tells His disciples “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God,” to whom is He referring? St. Luke tells us of several women who provided for Jesus and His ministry out of their means (Luke 8:3), so we know that He is not condemning people who had an abundance of material goods.

As illustrated in today’s Gospel it is an attachment to wealth that presents an obstacle to eternal life. This is the consistent teaching throughout scripture. It is love of money that is the root of all evil (1Timothy 6:10.) The Psalms tells us “Though wealth increase, do not set your heart upon it (Psalms 62:11.) And it is not enough to simply disdain riches. Jesus tells the young man to sell what he has but also then to go further and give to the poor, to give “for my sake and the sake of the Gospel.”

People may be wealthy without clinging to their goods. In their own way they may become a “river” to the poor and those in need. In a similar way, a poor person can be a miser with what little they have and refuse to help another in greater need. God can demand a great deal from us, sometimes He can demand everything.

For a number of reasons, homelessness is on the rise. Many people are going through tough times and we are made more and more aware of just how hard it is to trust in God and His salvific plan. Remember that He loves us and wants what is best for us. Can we accept His plan even if it is not the one we would have liked?

Pax Vobiscum
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time


© Lawrence Klimecki

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