Tag Archives: greed

2 December, Saturday – Holding Your Head Up

2 December 2017

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Daniel 7:15-27

I, Daniel, was deeply disturbed and the visions that passed through my head alarmed me. So I approached one of those who were standing by and asked him to tell me the truth about all this. And in reply he revealed to me what these things meant. “These four great beasts are four kings who will rise from the earth. Those who are granted sovereignty are the saints of the Most High, and the kingdom will be theirs for ever, for ever and ever.” Then I asked to know the truth about the fourth beast, different from all the rest, very terrifying, with iron teeth and bronze claws, eating, crushing and trampling underfoot what remained; and the truth about the ten horns on its head – and why the other horn sprouted and the three original horns fell, and why this horn had eyes and a mouth that was full of boasts, and why it made a greater show than the other horns. This was the horn I had watched making war on the saints and proving the stronger, until the coming of the one of great age who gave judgement in favour of the saints of the Most High, when the time came for the saints to take over the kingdom. This is what he said:

‘The fourth beast is to be a fourth kingdom on earth, different from all other kingdoms. It will devour the whole earth, trample it underfoot and crush it.

As for the ten horns: from this kingdom will rise ten kings, and another after them; this one will be different from the previous ones and will bring down three kings; he is going to speak words against the Most High, and harass the saints of the Most High.

He will consider changing seasons and the Law, and the saints will be put into his power for a time, two times, and half a time.

But a court will be held and his power will be stripped from him, consumed, and utterly destroyed.

And sovereignty and kingship, and the splendours of all the kingdoms under heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Most High.

His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty and every empire will serve and obey him.’

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Luke 21:34-36

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living man on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.’

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“…to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.”

It is sad that even within a praying family, betrayal can occur because of greed. The phrase ‘blood is thicker than water’ has begun to mean less to me after what I have witnessed over the past month or so. Jesus’ warning to His disciples to “Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life…” rings ever so true in today’s dog-eat-dog world.

Yet when you consider the desperate circumstances people find themselves in, can you blame them for being ruthless if it becomes a matter of survival? Where does one draw the line? I think that in times of desolation, people make decisions which they eventually live to regret because behind them is a distinct lack of trust in God’s providence.

I believe that is what Jesus means when He exhorts for us to “Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen…” He means for us to actually go through the trials that come our way, trusting fully that God will be there to guide us through the fire so that we emerge victorious in faith, rather than succumbing to the ways of the world (and the Devil) and taking the most obvious way out; even if it means turning your back on a loved one and hurting them in the process.

Brothers and sisters, the path of least resistance is never the best solution to our woes. Because that is what the Devil wants us to choose — to forget about God and to rely on our own strength, or the strength of others (be it spiritual, financial or emotional). In doing so, we inevitably end up causing more hurt even though our own problem is solved. I recall a piece of advice given by a priest – that if your decision causes hurt to someone else, then it is not from God. For God always wants the best for all of us, not just for some of us.

And if we approach every difficult situation with a desire to give life to the other party, we will be able to stand before God confident that we have been His true sons and daughters.

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer I pray for all the families who have been torn apart by greed, pride, anger and envy. That God will allow His healing graces to flow over all the wounds and hurts accumulated over time so that reconciliation can begin.

Thanksgiving Heavenly Father, we thank you for your words of life that sustain and encourage us to never give up on love.

23 October, Monday – The Material Is Immaterial

Oct 23 – Memorial for St. John Capistrano, Priest

John (1386–1456) was the son of a former German knight. His father died when John was still young. He studied law at the University of Perugia, and became a lawyer in Naples, Italy. He was the reforming governor of Perugia under King Landislas of Naples. When war broke out between Perugia and Malatesta in 1416, John tried to broker a peace, but instead his opponents ignored the truce, and John became a prisoner of war.

During his imprisonment, he came to the decision to change vocations. He had married just before the war, but his marriage was never consummated and, with his bride’s permission, it was annulled. He became a Franciscan at Perugia on 4 October 1416 and was a fellow student with St. James of the Marshes, and a disciple of St. Bernadine of Siena. He was a noted preacher while still a deacon, beginning his work in 1420.

He was an itinerant priest throughout Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia, preaching to tens of thousands. He established communities of Franciscan renewal, and was reported to heal by making the Sign of the Cross over a sick person. He wrote extensively, mainly against the heresies of the day.

After the fall of Constantinople, he preached Crusade against the Muslim Turks. At the age of 70, he was commissioned by Pope Callistus II to lead it, and marched off at the head of 70,000 Christian soldiers. He won the great battle of Belgrade in the summer of 1456. He died in the field a few months later, but his army delivered Europe from the Muslims.

– Patron Saint Index

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Romans 4:20-25

Since God had made him a promise, Abraham refused either to deny it or even to doubt it, but drew strength from faith and gave glory to God, convinced that God had power to do what he had promised. This is the faith that was ‘considered as justifying him.’ Scripture however does not refer only to him but to us as well when it says that his faith was thus ‘considered’; our faith too will be ‘considered’ if we believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, Jesus who was put to death for our sins and raised to life to justify us.

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Luke 12:13-21

A man in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.’ ‘My friend,’ he replied, ‘who appointed me your judge, or the arbitrator of your claims?’ Then he said to them, ‘Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more than he needs.’

Then he told them a parable: ‘There was once a rich man who, having had a good harvest from his land, thought to himself, “What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops.” Then he said, “This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them, and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time.” But God said to him, “Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?.” So it is when a man stores up treasure for himself in place of making himself rich in the sight of God.’

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…a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more than he needs.

Greed can certainly become an all-consuming ‘passion’ and drive someone to do things that totally do not make any sense from a rational point of view. In fact, I know of many instances where families have been torn apart because of greed and, in some cases, over rather insignificant sums of money.

Fortunately, I have never been in any position to share any wealth I have accumulated over the years as I used to be quite bad at managing my own finances. I had the tendency of spending well outside of my means in my 20s and 30s, even going into quite significant credit card debt. But, having seen the error of my ways, I have also recently discovered the joy of decluttering – getting rid of as many of my ‘useless’ possessions as I can. One item at a time, one bootload of ‘rubbish’ at a time, I have come to realise that we truly do not need much more than a roof over our head and two (or three) hot meals each day.

It has been a year since I came back from my Camino and last month, as a friend of mine was updating me on his 5-day walk, I couldn’t help but wonder how my brother in Christ, Helge, was getting on. As I looked back at my Facebook posts from last year, the tears welled up as I recalled that day we reunited as I was walking into Santiago. I still feel the same emotions hearing him recount what happened to him that week we seemed to have ‘lost each other’ on the road. How he had to resort to selling his things and, eventually, his boots so that he could continue his walk. How he was down to his last Euro when we met up again and how he was planning to spend two nights in the airport because he simply could not afford to stay in Santiago.

And, even though he had been told that his mother had passed away just the day before, he was still as joyful and more in love with Jesus than when he started his walk 5 months earlier from Berlin, with no job and no home. The two days he spent with us were filled with laughter, tears and wonderful meals as we shared freely about our own struggles and our lives at home. As I watched him walk away from my window the day he left for the airport, I couldn’t help but feel in my heart that for those two glorious days, I had been in the presence of Christ himself.

Brothers and sisters, as I have written yesterday, we are merely ‘in transit’ here on earth. Let us not waste our time here caught up by all things material. Because at the end of the day, there is nothing we can take with us when we eventually depart for the next life.

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: We pray for all those who are too caught up in greed to see the error of their ways and to be free from this capital sin.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, we give thanks for all that you bestow on us.

22 October, Sunday – Paying Our Dues

October 22 – World Mission Sunday

World Mission Sunday is a day set aside for the Catholic Church throughout the world to publicly renew its commitment to the missionary movement. It is celebrated on the penultimate (next-to-last) Sunday of October every year.[1] It was created by Pope Pius XI in 1926 as the day of prayer for missions.

  • Wikipedia

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Isaiah 45:1, 4-6

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whom he has taken by his right hand to subdue nations before him and strip the loins of kings, to force gateways before him that their gates be closed no more:

‘It is for the sake of my servant Jacob, of Israel my chosen one, that I have called you by your name, conferring a title though you do not know me. I am the Lord, unrivalled; there is no other God besides me.

Though you do not know me, I arm you that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that, apart from me, all is nothing.’

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1 Thessalonians 1:1-5

From Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, to the Church in Thessalonika which is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; wishing you grace and peace.

We always mention you in our prayers and thank God for you all, and constantly remember before God our Father how you have shown your faith in action, worked for love and persevered through hope, in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We know, brothers, that God loves you and that you have been chosen, because when we brought the Good News to you, it came to you not only as words, but as power and as the Holy Spirit and as utter conviction.

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Matthew 22:15-21

The Pharisees went away to work out between them how to trap Jesus in what he said. And they sent their disciples to him, together with the Herodians, to say, ‘Master, we know that you are an honest man and teach the way of God in an honest way, and that you are not afraid of anyone, because a man’s rank means nothing to you. Tell us your opinion, then. Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’ But Jesus was aware of their malice and replied, ‘You hypocrites! Why do you set this trap for me? Let me see the money you pay the tax with.’ They handed him a denarius, and he said, ‘Whose head is this? Whose name?’ ‘Caesar’s’ they replied. He then said to them, ‘Very well, give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God.’

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…give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God.

A minister one day approached a noble king and asked this question, “My Lord, I have been in your service for the last 50 years. As I am about to retire, how do you intend to reward me for my loyalty?” After giving it some thought, the King told his minister to take a horse from the royal stable and ride from daybreak till dusk. However much land the horse encircled would be given to the minister and his family.

The next day, the minister awoke bright and early and rode furiously from sunrise to sunset. The moment he stopped, both the horse and him dropped dead from sheer exhaustion. In the end, all that was given to the minister was just enough land to accommodate his coffin.

Brothers and sisters, it is very easy to be consumed by the material world, especially when society judges you by your postal code, make of car, brand of handbag and how frequently you dine at expensive restaurants. Jesus’ reply truly gives us some context in terms of how we should aim to live our life here on earth. Because at the end of the day, this temporal existence of ours is merely a prelude to an eternal life either in Heaven, or in total damnation and despair. If we allow ourselves to be consumed by greed, envy and pride, there is no end to the misery that we will be inflicting upon ourselves and our loved ones.

For me, Jesus’ reply works on two levels. First, he teaches us to be good, law-abiding citizens by giving back to our rulers what is owed to them. On the other hand, if you look at it from His perspective, He knows that no matter what we do, there is no amount of riches we could ever own that could even begin to repay our God for all He has done for us. So why then should we go to church and celebrate the Eucharist as often as we can? Why bother when God can never, ever be repaid in kindness and generosity?

The answer is that Jesus doesn’t want us to give up trying. We must have faith and carry within us the hope that our loving Father will always look upon us and embrace us in His loving arms as we lay down to sleep each night, comforted by the fact that He has forgiven us our sins and is waiting to welcome us with open arms. All we need to do is to pray each and every day.

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Bless us heavenly Father, with the spirit of contentment so that we do not succumb to greed but hunger for what you can give us every day.

Thanksgiving: I thank you Lord, for all that you give to us.

18 June, Saturday – Day after Today

18 June

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2 Chronicles 24:17-25

After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came to pay court to the king, and the king now turned to them for advice. The Judaeans abandoned the Temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, for the worship of sacred poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God’s anger fell on Judah and Jerusalem. He sent them prophets to bring them back to the Lord, but when these gave their message, they would not listen. The spirit of God took possession of Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood up before the people and said, ‘God says this, “Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord to no good purpose? You have deserted the Lord, now he deserts you.”’ They then plotted against him and by order of the king stoned him in the court of the Temple of the Lord. King Joash, forgetful of the kindness that Jehoiada, the father of Zechariah, had shown him, killed Jehoiada’s son who cried out as he died, ‘The Lord sees and he will avenge!’

When a year had gone by, the Aramaean army made war on Joash. They reached Judah and Jerusalem, and executed all the officials among the people, sending back to the king at Damascus all that they had plundered from them. Though the Aramaean army had by no means come in force, the Lord delivered into its power an army of great size for having deserted him, the God of their ancestors.

The Aramaeans treated Joash as he had deserved, and when they retired they left him a very sick man; and his officers, plotting against him to avenge the death of the son of Jehoiada the priest, murdered him in his bed. So he died, and they buried him in the Citadel of David, though not in the tombs of the kings.

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Matthew 6:24-34

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.

‘That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it. Surely life means more than food, and the body more than clothing! Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are? Can any of you, for all his worrying, add one single cubit to his span of life? And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin; yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his regalia was robed like one of these. Now if that is how God clothes the grass in the field which is there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you men of little faith? So do not worry; do not say, “What are we to eat? What are we to drink? How are we to be clothed?” It is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

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So do not worry about tomorrow.

Before getting off from work, I write down things to do for the following day.  That way I will not miss any important task.  I become worrisome and worked up whenever I am experiencing tight deadlines at work.  I tend to multitask and end up feeling exhausted by the end of the day.  What did I accomplish?  It is a very difficult question.

It says in the Gospel, “No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.”  Actually this is true.  There is this word, “focus”, which signifies singularity.  It is either this one or that one.  It can never be both.  It will be too tiring and will end up not focusing to neither.  Choosing God over money does not mean not doing anything and just wait for God to feed us.  It says in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “We gave you a rule when we were with you: do not let anyone have any food if he refuses to do any work.”  There is no blessing to those who are lazy.  We will starve to death if we do not buy food and water.  Our bills will not pay for themselves.  So definitely we do need money.

Yet, attachment to money is dangerous.   It also includes attachment to fame, power, and possessions.  It may turn us into a greedy person that leads to negative relationship with others.  And these instances push us away from God.  We might be thinking that we are working to live a comfortable life.  But the end result is we are living to work.  Do we work hard to earn more in order to serve the Lord?  Or do we work hard to earn more in order to serve ourselves?  Or do we live our life everyday, working so hard and wearing ourselves out?

Money is not bad as it is.  It becomes the root of evil if we choose it over God.  It is bad if we become greedy, have hatred, and become an unforgiving person because of it.  We must make money a tool so that whatever we do, we offer it to God.  This will make our Lord the center of our everything.

Before we sleep each night, let us try to reflect what happened that day.  Let us ask ourselves, “What did I accomplish?  Did I do something that is pleasing to God?  Do I see God in what I do?”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, please grant us joy while facing our daily struggles.  Please allow our hearts to choose to serve the Lord over our desire to material wealth.  We pray that we will not be too attached with our money but rather be generous to share it with others.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Lord for the blessings and graces we received.  We thank you Father for all things that we have that sustains our daily life.