Gain vs. Greed – Staying Focused on What Matters

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Fr. Daniel Themann
Chaplain, SJBMA

Last month we discussed professionalism and explained that it means to have respect for our profession.

  1. Because it is a calling from God.
  2. It contributes to the Common Good…a sacred thing, a good higher than myself.

We do need to train ourselves to think beyond ourselves.

  1. It is meant to be the means by which man keeps his balance and perfects himself.
    • Outlet for his energy, gives sense of accomplishment.
    • Means of perfecting himself through effort.
  1. It is the means which provides life, education, leisure…all sacred things.

 

Tonight’s topic is connected to #4.

  • When do we go overboard? When are we not looking for legitimate gain in order to better provide for these sacred goods but rather money for money’s sake or stuff for stuff’s sake?
  • Yes, we do want to be dedicated to our professions and to put generous effort into them, but – remember – every good thing has aplastic counterfeit.

 

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What we must avoid is avarice…a fancy word for greed.

Definition – an inordinate love of earthly goods (stuff).

  • Every sin has “inordinate” in the definition.
  • Sin is not fundamentally a “legal” question! It is the breaking of an order. It is to put some good out of its rightful place and thereby to act unreasonably.

 

What is the order we are talking about? What is stuff for?

 

Stuff is for our welfare and the welfare of our neighbor.

    • My welfare or those dependent on me.
    • My neighbor’s welfare.
    • Common good

For example, in Cincinnati, there is a Passionist Monastery which stands in a very prominent place overlooking the city. It is currently used as office space by a (not very respectable) radio station. My dream growing up was to get rich enough someday to buy it and donate it to some traditional religious order. Then literally tens of thousands of people would have to think of God at least twice a day as they drove into and out of the city to go to work. Or as another example, consider the group of businessmen who first pulled their resources and purchased Ecône.

 

How do we know if we have crossed that line? (Signs of Greed)

  1. Intention – We set up wealth, influence, pleasure as the end.
      • Goal is “to be a millionaire.”

Why?

      • Goal is “to never have to work another day of my life.”

To have more time for family, for reading, doing charity, etc.– good.

Fun for fun’s sake is always a disorder.

  1. Manner of seeking wealth –
    • Without regard for the rights of others.
    • Risk greater goods for the sake of money e.g. our health, our family life, our financial security without reasonable cause.
  2. The way we use money –
      • Very unwilling to spend money – keep for sense of security, power.
      • Give little or nothing to charity.
      • Obsessed with seeing it, counting it, feeling it.

 

Malice of avarice:

  1. Mistrust in God.
  • Avarice is not generally a vice of youth…encouraging? No, they are just irresponsible. Fear of want often prompts this. Must make prudent decisions, exercise prudent foresight and then trust in providence.
  • Behold the man who has not made God his helper but trusted in the abundance of his riches and has continued in his vanity.” Ps. 51, 9
  • Behold the birds of the air and the lilies of the field…neither labor nor spin.” Matt 6, 26
  1. Love of stuff kills our spirit of mortification and cools our love for God.

No one can serve God and mammon.” Matt 6, 24

  1. Leads to pride. Concupiscence of the eyes (curiosity is the other form of concupiscence of the eyes) leads to pride of life.
  2. Disputes over money are behind a lot of the tension in a marriage.

 

Greed is a mortal sin when it causes us to violate justice or charity in a grave manner.

 

Remedies:

  1. Remind ourselves that we are creatures of eternity even by nature.
  2. Remind ourselves that we are stewards.
  3. Agere contra: “Do the opposite.” In this case, be generous.
    • Make friends with the mammon of iniquity…When you fail, they will welcome you into their houses.” Luke 16:9
    • Our Lord tells us in this parable to use our “mammon of iniquity” to do charity. Thus, we will make friends (with the poor), and they will welcome us into their (heavenly) dwellings when we fail (die).