Pope John Paul II spoke on the “Vanity of riches,” the theme of the first part of Psalm 48, in today's general audience in St. Peter's Square, and emphasized that to be rich is not an advantage in this life if it takes one away from life with God.
The Pope said that this psalm speaks of the just man who "must confront 'evil days' because the malice of his foes surrounds him' and men 'boast of the vastness of their riches'. The conclusion reached by the just man is ... that great riches is not an advantage; on the contrary, it is better to be poor and to live as one with God."
The rich man "is convinced that he is able to buy everything, even death, trying almost to corrupt it, as he did in order to obtain all other things, success, triumph over others in the social and political sphere, unpunished abuse of power, eating to his heart's content, comforts, pleasures,"said the Holy Father.
But "the final destiny of the rich man,” he continued, “even for as much money as he is willing to offer, will be unalterable. As all men and women, ... he will die one day ... and will have to leave the gold he loved so much and the material goods so idolatrized on earth."
"Jesus addresses this unsettling question to those who listen to Him: 'What can man give in exchange for his soul?' No exchange is possible because life is a gift from God who 'has in his hand the soul of every living being and the breath of all human flesh,'" said the Pope.
At the end of the audience the Pope thanked his fellow Poles for "their prayers and expressions of unity and for the help that you have given me during these 26 years of pontificate. May the Lord reward you abundantly and bless you."