Avarice and Generosity

Below is a summary of last Sunday’s discussion.

One of Bishop Barron’s opening points was that wealth in itself is not bad. In fact, it is good for society and the economy, but should not be worshipped or obsessed over. We should never place wealth and material goods on a level higher than God. We are called to live a life detached from material possessions in order to enter the Kingdom of heaven. “If you allow God to fill you with Himself (treasure in heaven) though detachment from worldly things, faith, and the Sacraments, you will become like Him.”

Next up we discussed the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. This parable shows how during his time on earth, the rich man clung to his wealth and could not give anything away to a poor man, Lazarus who sat at his gate. After their deaths, Lazarus ended up in heaven and the rich man in Hades. Upon asking Abraham for mercy and for Lazarus to cool his tongue with some water, Abraham replied, “Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.” Ouch.

When the rich man asks if Lazarus could warn his relatives about the torment of Hades, Abraham replied saying they should listen to the words of Moses and the prophets. In other words, we have all been warned. As we hear way too often in Nigeria, a word is enough for the wise and to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Jesus places supreme importance on true charity and generosity to the poor as it is a necessary means to salvation.

We are all blessed more than we know. We should always thank God for his blessings, and ask Him how we can help others with what we have. We discussed how we should use the wealth we are blessed with to fulfil the common good. The Catechism defines the common good as “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily.” This means that we must lovingly will the good of all regardless of who they are or of our own self-interest. Again, the corporal works of mercy are great examples of how to contribute to the common good.

In 1 Corinthians, St. Paul encourages us to generously give to communities in need. He refers to the Macedonians who “in their profound poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity.” He also takes us back to Exodus as the Israelites journeyed to the Promised Land. God provided them with manna from heaven each morning and instructed them to take just what they needed. When the amount of manna was measured each day, each tent had enough for their needs: “Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less.” The manna was shared in the community because it came directly from God and wasn’t exactly theirs. We are given wealth to share it. We are therefore given the opportunity to imitate God’s generosity.

Leave a Reply