We recently began to consider the Seven Deadly Sins, or the Seven Capital Sins. The Church has been teaching and pondering the Seven Deadly Sins since the time of Jesus and St. Paul. First we began with the sin of Anger. Today we will continue with the Deadly Sin of Greed.
It is important to recall that sin is always a personal choice. Mortal sin is fatal; Mortal sin is like suicide; by your own choice you take your eternal life because mortal sin separates us from God. Eternal life is only possible with God. Only God is eternal. There can be no eternal life separated from God. Mortal sin is fatal because it separates us from our final destiny: Heaven and our Salvation. That is how we lose our Eternal Life. It is always our personal decision.
The Seven Deadly Sins include: Pride, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Sloth or Laziness, Envy and Anger.
Greed is a disordered love of the goods of the world. This also includes the desire for and love of riches, possessions, money, knowledge, and a disordered desire to possess. The greedy love the world more than they love God. Their choice.
When we speak of morality we must always be careful to separate emotion from sin. God formed us with our emotions and our natural needs. It is perfectly natural for us to experience the need that we all have for personal security and to posess that which we need for survival and well-being. Here in Texas and the USA we depend upon automobiles because of the great distances we have to travel in our daily lives. More and more in our times we depend upon computers, the internet and cell phones to interact with and function in the world. These are not evil in themselves. We use money to facilitate our daily transactions. Money, by itself, is not evil. Posession of our necesities is not sinful. There is no sin or evil in our need for security and survival in the world.
However, when our possessions begin to posess us, that is when we begin to have moral problems and encounter moral danger. When we cannot share our goods with others, we begin to put our eternal life at risk. These things are our personal decisions, and almost always involve pride and ego.
When we review our personal priorities as mature adults we can begin to to see clearly whether we have committed sins of Greed.
There is never any moral problem in desiring something good, or even wanting a lot of it. The problem comes when we want the wrong things, or place mediocre things above better things. Some analogies come to mind:
- If we want just any food, junk food not just good food
- If we want sex but not children or commitment
- If we seek company but not friendship
- If we seek the world but not eternal life
Then we place ourselves in moral danger for not desiring higher things, and instead wanting lower things.
Consider Jesus’ words in the Gospel.
“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock,
for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.
Sell your belongings and give alms.
Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out,
an inexhaustible treasure in heaven
that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
If we want the treasures of heaven we must make decisions, and place those treasures above worldly goods. If we love the world more than God then we cannot have eternal life, and we will not see heaven.
In last week’s Gospel, we heard Jesus present a parable about a rich man who had a great harvest. He didn’t have enough space in his barns to keep it all, so he decided to tear them down and build bigger barns so that he could,
“have so many good things stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’
But God said to him,
‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”
For each one of the Seven Deadly Sins there exists a virtue that is its opposite. For the sin of Greed we have the virtue of Generosity. When we experience temptation with Greed, we are able to choose acts of generosity to counter this deadly sin. This is moral, spiritual combat. We should plan our spiritual battles and make generosity our plan of life.
We all have to pay monthly for rent, electricity, water, food, etc. This is normal. However, we put our eternal life at great risk when we allow ourselves to believe that what we have is ours alone and fail to see that all we have comes from God. We place our souls at risk when we practice our almsgiving and tithing stingily, from our excess, from what is left over after we have satisfied ourselves and paid our personal expenses. If we are that short-sighted we show how little we consider God or others by not anticipating generosity for God and His people and his Church. That practice is a lack of generosity.
The bible speaks often of giving God our “first fruits” or the first fruits of our harvest. One way to put God first in our lives is to anticipate our generosity and plan to share weekly and monthly from our first fruits, with tithing and alms. Don’t just give to God what you earn on Friday afternoon, but set aside His portion from what you earn first, on Monday morning. You get what is left over, not God. Another example of generosity with God is to never miss Mass or Confession. Another is to plan our ministry within the community. Many only serve begrudgingly. I love the ministries of our adult and youth altar servers. The adult altar servers demonstrate the spirit of servants, by selflessly coming to frequent training and serving English and Spanish masses, and weddings, quinceaneras and funerals. They serve with their hearts and example, and show their spiritual maturity with their service. We need more to serve like them. So far we only have volunteers from the Hispanic community, and no one has come forward from the English-speaking community.
Generosity is an example of our spiritual maturity. We help our children grow in charity by our examples of generosity. In childhood it is natural for a child to be very selfish with his or her toys, saying, “It’s mine!” We watch them grow when we observe a child saying to a brother or sister or friend, “Here, you may play with my toy.”
Don’t commit the Deadly Sin of Greed. Be generous. Learn from Jesus to,
“… sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven….”