“Vanity of vanities, all things are vanity!” Like a warning label contained on many of today’s items our readings for this Sunday warn us on the dangers of greed and materialism. Jesus says in the Gospel in response to a member of the crowd, “take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Many of us struggle with this concept because we bank our success in life with having more of everything.
The danger with banking our life with having more of everything is that materialism can consume us and draw us away from our responsibility as Christians to follow the example of Jesus Christ in our lives. It’s really a hard balance for us to keep today. In many ways it is not a bad thing to be well off. However, it is what we do with our success that makes the world of difference. There are some in our society who are really blest not having to worry about finances. They have enough money to pay all the bills and then some. These people don’t flaunt their success but rather do everything within their power to help others in need. Then there are those who continue to build up their empire without sharing it with anyone. It is these individuals who struggle through life. Many of them while they may appear through the eyes of the world to be blessed with success find themselves consumed by greed and alone. Greed truly hardens ones heart!
One of the things I have personally learned and witnessed over the years is that the more I give the more I receive. That wasn’t always the case for me. As I was growing up my father was in and out of work because the companies he worked for were either disbanded or laid off workers left and right. My father suffered a massive heart attack when I was little which made it even harder for him to find work. Believe it or not as a little boy I was little miser saving up every single penny, nickel, dime and quarter and found myself with one goal in mind and that was to have more money than I would know what to do with! I didn’t want to be in the boat my parents were in. A problem I found with that goal was that it was causing me to become more miserable and self-centered. Let me tell you the more greedy one becomes the more alone they are. Over the years I got involved in Church and Scouting which helped me revaluate the goals I set out for myself. Also I remember as I was growing up while although my parents struggled to pay the bills, no matter how hard things got they still found enough to sacrifice to send my brother and me to Catholic Schools. The more I learned about God and His generosity through my time in Catholic School, through my parent’s example and the examples of the generosity of others the more my heart started to be moved! My parents never asked for financial assistance; however people saw our need and contributed out of their generosity. I saw firsthand in those moments God at work.
If one finds that they are struggling with greed and we must remember greed isn’t necessary associated just with money or possessions, we can become greedy too with our talents and time as well, we are encouraged to simply let it all go. Let those things go that prevent us from listing to the Lord’s voice. Be attentive to the Lord’s voice in the world and do not harden ones heart! The Lord is at work, let go, do not put trust in worldly aspirations and possessions that only isolate us from God and others. Allow the Lord’s example through His words and through His example demonstrated by the generosity of others to change and move your hearts.