The danger of being possessed by greed

October 19, 2020 – Monday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time

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To possess material wealth is not evil. Material wealth is God’s gift to us. However, material wealth becomes a problem if we would allow this to possess us. This becomes problematic especially among families who have wealth to inherit. This causes conflicts and misunderstanding that would even reach to lawsuits and broken family relations. This is something we have heard in today’s Gospel from a man who asked Jesus to help him so that he too will have a share from his family inheritance. Indeed, we might believe that to possess so much wealth will give us security and joy.

However, this is not the case because the more we possess things, the more we also become insecure and anxious. Just observe ourselves. The more a person possess wealth, the more the person becomes defensive. High walls are built to protect a rich house, sometimes with electric current running 24/7 on barb wires and with a 24-hour security personnel. And when the person becomes unaware of his/her unquenchable desire to possess more, then, the heart turns greedy and insecure, and even corrupt and oppressive.

Jesus warns us of our tendency to be greedy and the danger of being possessed by greed. Greed comes from a heart that believes in self-containment and self-satisfaction and that desires total independence from God. But then, material things could never quench our greatest desire to be satisfied and fulfilled. Thus, a person will tend to accumulate more and possess more even at the expense of others.

This is how the cycle of corruption and oppression happen. When our desire becomes unsatisfiable, we become greedy of many things, who will tend to collect as many material things and wealth us much as possible.

Such attitude will not just appear in our heart out of nowhere. Sometimes, this has something to do from our childhood memories. A child who has been deprived from many things particularly of essential things in the child’s development such us food, shelter, toys and clothing and even affection and love from parents, may become a form of emptiness in the heart of a child. When the child becomes adult, that kind of experience could give the person the anxiety to be deprived again. Hence, in order to gratify such anxiety, the person could become a hoarder who accumulate things and possessions.

When this happens too, a hoarder or a greedy person is blinded to see the needs of others. It will be difficult for the person to open up and be generous to those who are in need around him or her because the person feels insecure every time he or she gives.  The person would only look at his/herself and never to others. This is now an attitude of the heart that is truly being possessed by possessions.

Thus, Jesus said, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Jesus tells us that our life is more than our possessions.

Be mindful, then, of our possessive attitudes because these may affect and endanger our relationships with our families, friends and colleagues.

We may ask, what is it that possessed me? What are those that kept me from being free? We do not have to think of millions of pesos because even a single smartphone may possess us. Remember, when we put so much focus and attention to a material thing, it could make us indifferent, greedy and unkind towards others. Our attachment to a single smartphone may indeed, prevent us from giving more time, attention and focus towards our studies (for the students), or may prevent us from giving our affection and presence to our loved ones.

We believe that what gives us true satisfaction, freedom, joy and contentment is a life with God. Jesus calls today to have a life with Him and to let go of whatever that possessed us because this is the way of making ourselves free and happy. Then, by being free, we shall be able to let ourselves be satisfied truly by the Lord himself. In response, our self-satisfaction from the Lord will lead us to recognize that everything we have is God’s blessing that must be shared to others. Hinaut pa.

Jom Baring, CSsR


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