In the movie Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman is delivering milk, pulling the cart himself as his horse has taken the day off. He has a question for God:
Dear God, you made many, many poor people.
I realize, of course, that it’s no shame to be poor
But it’s no great honour, either. So what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?
Teyve begins to sing about his dream:
If I were a rich man,
Daidle deedle daidle…
All day long I’d
If I were a wealthy man
I wouldn’t have to
Last Wednesday’s First Reading on 12 Feb spoke of Queen Sheba’s visit to King Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-10). She was awed by his wisdom and riches, and gave him more gold, spices and precious stones. Unabashedly I’d say when it comes to money, there are worries. Maybe we’re not like Teyve who dreams of having a big tall house with a yard of chicks, turkeys and geese. Perhaps we may dream of being more carefree if we had more money.
A rich inheritance
As Catholics, our pockets may not be lined with gold but we are rich. We have a rich Father who calls us His sons and daughters. God is rich in faithful love (Ephesians 2:4) and loves us deeply. “May He enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope His call holds for you, how rich is the glory of the heritage He offers among His holy people.” Ephesians 1:18
A hidden treasure
“The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off in his joy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.” Matthew 13:44
What do you do when you find treasure? Most of us would naturally delight in it. So if the kingdom of Heaven is the treasure you find, are you happy to have found it? Are you willing to sell everything i.e. to give your life to Jesus?
With richness comes responsibility
Tevye believed that only when he was financially secure, he would have time to dedicate to God:
If I were rich, I’d have the time that I lack
To sit in the synagogue and pray,
And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall,
And I’d discuss the learned books with the holy men
Seven hours every day
That would be the sweetest thing of all
Unlike Teyve, we believe we have already been blessed with riches from God. So are we praying and discussing our faith with one another?
In Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation on the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World:
“The Synod Fathers have said that a post-baptismal catechesis in the form of a catechumenate can also be helpful by presenting again some elements from the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) with the purpose of allowing a person to grasp and live the immense, extraordinary richness and responsibility received at Baptism.”
Lord who made the lion and the lamb,
You decreed I should be what I am
Would it spoil some vast, eternal plan,
If I were a wealthy man?
At the end of his song, Teyve believes in the Lord’s providence but he cannot resist asking for a better life. If we truly want salvation, we would need to respond to Christ’s special graces through thought, word and deed (Lumen Gentium). And the richer we are as we bear witness to God’s wisdom, may we, like King Solomon, receive more graces to do His good works.
by Karen Roberts-Fong