Sunday, September 29, 2013

Are We Jesus’ Rich Man?


I just returned from a Catholic wedding celebration, where most of the guests at the reception were not invited to the wedding Mass. It was held at an up-scale, suburban hotel with wine flowing from the moment one walked in, (no need to save the finest Cabernet for last here- it was there from the get-go) the chairs covered in fine linens, lavish flowers decorating every table, and a live band and a DJ set up. The young couple impressed me as being very down-to-earth, genuine decent young people. But as the evening wore on, and I intensified my people-watching, the following observation by a Benedictine College Economics prof sums up quite nicely my feeling that it identifies what is going on in the lives of many Catholics these days, myself included:

"....active decisions to sin, such as the decision to be greedy, ...happen, of course, but that was not the path to sin for most people. Rather, it was the simple urge to be comfortable, to make life easier for oneself and one’s family. Concupiscence, in a word. That simple impulse — pursued day in and day out, over the course of a lifetime — ...unless challenged constantly, resulted in people slowly sliding away from their spiritual life and neglecting their duties to others in the neighborhood, civically.

People don’t start out seeking a high life that ignores others. First, they go into debt pursuing pleasures which seem normal to them. Then, as debt payments mount, they lose the ability to spend money on charity. They have to worry and work for debt more and more, and then they escape into more pleasures to deal with the anxiety. Soon, they find themselves dressing nicely and eating sumptuously each night, while others are in need of help.
"The Lord grieves over the rich, because they find their consolation in the abundance of goods," says the Catechism (2547). It also notes: "All Christ’s faithful are to ‘direct their affections rightly, lest they be hindered in their pursuit of perfect charity’" (2545).