September 1, 2011

Holy Poverty Against Pious Prosperity

I love how today's gospel of the huge catch of fish (Luke 5:1-11) cuts through the very unfranciscan doctrine of the 'prosperity gospel.'

Peter, James, and John had caught nothing all night, but at Jesus' command the nets are lowered once again. The huge catch that follows is astonishing to all. Trusting in the Lord's command leads to a turnaround for Peter's business. At that moment he is a flourishing success of a fisherman. So far so good for the prosperity gospel. Following the Lord leads to material success.

But what happens next shakes up the materialistic doctrine. Peter and his co-workers don't even enjoy their new success, because their response is to leave it all behind to follow Jesus. They see through the blessings to the Blessed One. Now Peter will be a fisher of human beings, the material success of the moment being realized as a mere sign of the evangelical victory that is his real destiny.

Two truths of the Christian life come to mind. First, we must always remember that the Christian life is not an opportunity to get something, but a challenge to give even our own selves away. Second, the material blessings of this life are not to be enjoyed for their own sake, but as signs and means for the working of the salvation God desires for people.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Wow. Thanks for the fresh insight into this Gospel passage. I never thought of it as a case of leaving "success" behind to follow Jesus. But clearly, that is exactly what is going on.

Those who follow the "prosperity gospel" message are missing out on the true "out of this world" riches of Christ.