Maundy Thursday, April 17

In most honor/shame systems, which are grounded in male values, a “true man” always seeks the best, the top, and the most in terms of roles, power, status, and possessions. This usually sets up the male for spiritual defeat or deceit. Although women create their own honor/shame systems too, up to now this was usually home-, appearance-, and family-based. Now women in overdeveloped countries have largely bought into the outer male system too, which can make them doubly trapped. Jesus tried to free us from all this.

Throughout the Gospels, we find numerous teachings promoting “downward mobility.” The most familiar of these may be “The last shall be first, and the first shall be last” (Matthew 20:16), and Jesus’ consistent honoring of the least, the outsider, the sinner, and the handicapped.

Jesus tells us to refuse all storing up of treasures, what he calls “building bigger barns” (Luke 12:16-21). Does that sound like capitalism? Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24). It’s harder to pass through the eye of a needle (Matthew 19:24) than to serve God and money at the same time. Pope Francis has also been saying, “Money is to serve and not to rule.” In this area, Jesus makes his most clear, dualistic judgments. It is almost scary.

Yet, we have given generations of Christians the impression that we can easily be both rich and still generous. I know many who can, but they really work at it. Yet we have preachers on television who tell Americans that the more money you make and have, the more you are blessed and honored by God. That is absolute anti-Gospel and, not to mention, unsustainable with six billion people on this planet—and growing.

— Richard Rohr from Mark & Victoria Harriss Provost