Why doesn’t the Church sell all its wealth and give the money to the poor?

Seattle-Divorce-and-Separation-CounselingThe beauty of the Catholic Church is something to behold.  The Catholic Church has huge churches filled with large paintings. Some churches are made of elaborate marble, and even some priests’ chalices look like they could sit in museums.  Seeing all of this beauty can seem a tad bit deceiving.  It can be very easy for someone to say why does the Catholic Church need all this expensive stuff?  Especially, when there are so many people in the world suffering without the most basic needs.  So, wouldn’t it make more sense for the Catholic Church to sell all its possessions and give the money to the poor?

It can be really easy to come to this conclusion because this is exactly what Jesus says to do in the Bible.  In the story of the rich man in the Gospel of Mark Jesus says, “Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, ‘You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven: then come, follow me’” (Mark 10:21).  However, this command from Jesus isn’t something we have to take literally.  Jesus, in this story was concerned that material wealth gave people false security, when they should be focused on serving others and bringing about the Kingdom of God.

The same is true for any Catholic, Christian, and non-Christian alike. We live in a consumeristic society in which building up material wealth can be very easy.  But, wealth in itself isn’t bad.  It’s the attachment and value we place on it where it becomes a problem.  As Catholics we need to learn how not to let material items keep us away from doing Jesus’ mission of serving the poor.

The Catholic Church, the people who make up the church, are the perfect examples for us to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.  If you view the Catholic Church just by its materials (stain glass windows, chalices, etc.) you miss the most important aspect of the Church.  The Catholic Church is one of the largest, if not the biggest, service agencies in the entire world.  Organizations like Catholic Relief Services lead the way and set an example for the entire world to follow.

So, in essence even though the Catholic Church has lots of material wealth it does not need to sell all of its possessions in order to serve the poor.  Instead we should be following the Catholic Church’s example of the many different ways we can serve the poor.  So, I challenge you this month to explore the outreaches of the Catholic Church, which you can easily see by visiting the “Get Involved” page on the St. Matthias website.  See what impact they have on the people around them.  Who knows, you may even join the cause.

More Examples:
Cross Catholic Outreach
Catholic Charities
Global Outreach
Dismas Ministry