“Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions” (LK 12:15).
Jesus wisely warns us to be careful to resist the temptation of greed, which can be defined as an intense, selfish desire for something. Here Jesus addresses the greed of material wealth, but we can also have unhealthy selfish desires for anything. Jesus also stated that “one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Material goods are finite and will not ultimately fulfill us but they can be good when used for the purpose they were intended for and in moderation.
God provides for our needs. Fostering an attitude of thanksgiving for that which we have received and then being good stewards helps us to resist the temptation of greed. St Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD) wrote: “How could we do good to our neighbor if none of us possessed anything.” God does bless us, and from what we have been given we are to assist those in need. The problem comes when we interfere with the flow of receiving by hoarding what we have received and rationalizing our unwillingness to share. Also, when we look to our wealth as our safety net, instead of God’s providence, we begin to cling to what we have and develop an unhealthy attachment. We need to remember that the material and finite of below will not satisfy and will not last, we need to set our heart and mind to God above.
Acts of charity, willing the good of and support for one another in need will help us to resist the temptation of greed and help us to be open conduits of God’s mercy. Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903 AD) wrote that “Once the demands of necessity and propriety have been met, the rest of your money belongs to the poor.” How many of us are willing to put that quote on our bathroom mirror? More so, put it into practice? How about posting this quote from John Chrysostom (349-407 AD) over our closet and reading it before we enter: “The man who has two shirts in his closet, one belongs to him; the other belongs to the man who has no shirt.”
God has given us the gift of his Son, Jesus. In so doing he has given us the free gift of our salvation which is a reason to rejoice! He loved us and creation into being and is loving us into eternity. We are invited to participate in the love experienced by the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. We do this best when we resist clinging to the material and finite and instead be thankful for the gift of life and invitation to be in relationship with his Son. May we share that which we have received from God, our infinite source and spring of eternal Love. We will be fulfilled and joyful, not by how much we have saved up in our bank account, but by how much love we invest in serving each other.