How short you have made my life! In your sight my lifetime seems nothing. Indeed every living man is no more than a puff of wind, no more than a shadow. All he does is for nothing; he gathers wealth, but doesn’t know who will get it. (Psalms 39:6).
The Russian boy Ivan was heir to his father’s small farm. He wanted more land. Once, a stranger came by, apparently a man of means and power, and offered to give him all the land he could cover in one day, on condition that he would be back at the spot from which he started, by sundown. Early the next morning the boy set out, without eating any breakfast or greeting anyone. His first plan was to cover six square miles. When he finished the first six, he decided to make it nine, then twelve, and finally fifteen. That meant he would have to walk 60 miles before sundown. By noon he had covered thirty miles. He did not stop for food or drink. His legs grew heavier and heavier, as he turned back to reach the finish line. About 200 yards from the finish line, he saw the sun dropping toward the horizon. Only a few minutes left. He gathered all his energies for that one last effort. He staggered across the line, just in time, and fell down in a heap–dead. All the land he got was a piece six feet by two. He died of greed. This happens to thousands of people today.
Bible says: “ What did we bring into the world? Nothing! What can we take out of the world? Nothing! So then, if we have food and clothes, that should be enough for us. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and are caught in the trap of many foolish and harmful desires, which pull them down to ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a source of all kinds of evil. Some have been so eager to have it that they have wandered away from the faith and have broken their hearts with many sorrows. But you, man of God, avoid all these things. Strive for righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Run your best in the race of faith, and win eternal life for yourself; for it was to this life that God called you. (1 Timothy 6:7).
Talking about the dangers of becoming a slave to material wealth, Pope Francis cautioned that focusing on accumulating riches, corrupts the heart. In one of his homilies, taking his inspiration from the gospel reading where Jesus warned his disciples not to accumulate treasures on the earth but instead in heaven, the Pope reflects on the many dangers posed by greed and human ambition. He said these vices end up corrupting and enslaving our hearts and rather than accumulating wealth for ourselves we should be using it for the common good. “In the end this wealth doesn’t give us lasting security. Instead, it tends to reduce your dignity. And this happens in families – so many divided families. And this ambition that destroys and corrupts is also at the root of wars. There are so many wars in our world nowadays because of greed for power and wealth. We can think of the war in our own hearts. As the Lord said, ‘Be on your guard against avarice of any kind.’ Because greed moves forward, it’s like a flight of steps, the door opens and then vanity comes in – believing ourselves to be important, believing ourselves to be powerful… and then in the end pride comes. And all the vices come from that, all of them. They are steps but the first step is avarice, that desire to accumulate wealth.”
The attitude we need to have towards money and wealth is always a complicated one. It is not possible to say a hard and fast “no” to wealth, because it makes our lives meaningful in numerous ways. At the same time, it is not a good thing to consider it the most important purpose of life. You might have surely thought of the usefulness as well as the dangers of fire. When under control, fire is very helpful. But if it goes beyond control it is highly destructive. It is true with money too. Money is good as long as man remains the master, deciding how to get and how to spend. However, it becomes highly dangerous when money acts as the master and man is reduced to a slave. In such situations it is not the man who dictates terms, but money. It is called a dangerous situation because in such cases money will be considered more important than human values and relations. Gradually, man may demerit himself to the position of animals and does not hesitate to do anything for his/her selfish motives.
No matter how rich and affluent a person is, he will find that neither this world nor all his possessions will not give him lasting satisfaction and true contentment. They give only temporary satisfaction and drive people forward for more and more. So when a person puts his trust in the material comforts of this world, he will find it to be a smokescreen or fog. It may look so real, but will be blown away by the winds of the changing world. But a child of God leaves such mirages of possessions, positions and popularity behind and seeks to find full satisfaction in the Lord and His dwelling place. The many mansions of this world offer satisfaction but plunge people into despair. The presence of God, on the other hand, would give them lasting satisfaction. It is like a tent in which they can live and rest. This tent of the presence of God is a promise for the future when God will take His children to His abode to dwell with Him forever. While on earth, it is a refuge for His children to find safety and security from all the diabolic things that this world offers. The heart of a child of God can never find solace in anything that the world offers, but because it will give them fear and insecurity, as they are gripped with the uncertainties of this world. But the hope that God gives to those who live in His tent will fill them with peace, joy and satisfaction. They can go to confide in the Lord and find lasting rest in His presence. This rest is available to those who have a deep longing to be in the Lord’s tent and take refuge under His wings.
No one who loves money can be judged innocent; his efforts to get rich have led him into sin. Many people have been ruined because of money, brought face to face with disaster. Money is a trap for those who are fascinated by it, a trap that every fool falls into. (Sirach 31: 5 – 6).