The Milan Cathedral (the Duomo) is one of the largest and most beautiful in all the world. There are inscriptions over the three main entranceways. Above the right-hand door are the words, “All that pleases is but for a moment.” The words over the left-hand door are “All that troubles is but for a moment.” Inscribed above the central door are the words “Nothing is important save that which is eternal” (Michael Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, p. 291). I think it’s safe to say that many people would be much happier—and our world would be a much better place—if everyone understood, remembered, and lived by these simple ideas. Having the proper perspective is so important. All our pleasures, and all our problems, are temporary; at the end of our lives, the only thing that will truly matter is where we end up spending eternity.
This is one of the ideas the Church emphasizes on Catechetical Sunday. Teaching young people the truths of our Faith, and helping them live by the values of God’s Kingdom, is a wise and important investment of our time and effort. The world tries to distract us with passing things of no lasting worth. The Church, however, urges us to focus on those things which will truly last, and to use our influence over other people, especially the young, to help them do this, too. Many parishes are fortunate to have faith formation catechists, youth ministers, and teachers who are dedicated to this ministry—but this is a lesson all of us are called to take to heart.
The Scriptures warn us that the desire for wealth is a powerful motivation—so much so that some people will even cheat and exploit others for their own gain. The Book of Amos (8:4-7) warns, God does not overlook such crimes; these unrepentant sinners will be held accountable. And in the Gospel of Luke (16:10-13), Jesus declares: “No servant can serve two masters.”
We cannot wholeheartedly devote ourselves to both God and money. We must make a choice—and the only proper decision is to place God first, and to use our money, material resources, and every other blessing and gift, for His glory.
In practical terms, this means donating to charity if we can, contributing to and being involved in our parish, living in a spirit of genuine gratitude for all God’s blessings, not judging people on the basis of what they own or how much money they make, being honest in our business dealings, paying our fair share of taxes, not being so busy working that we have no time for our family, always trying to value people more than things, not letting society or popular culture make our choices for us or determine our values, and making sure we have regular time for God in the midst of our very busy daily lives.
The best investment isn’t one that pays 10, or 15, or even 50 or 100%; the best investment is the one whose benefits last forever. Only God can offer this. If we choose His way of life, and use well the blessings He has already given us, we will discover a deep inner peace in this world, and one day share in the eternal riches of Heaven.