Thursday, August 4, 2011

Timothy, Amos, Money, and Getting a Grip

I'm still at the Catholic Marketing Network's 15th Anniversary Trade Show, working as gofer at my son-in-law and #2 daughter's booth. I'm taking an 'in-booth break' at the moment.

More about the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show and me:

Isn't Money Sinful, or Something?

As a practicing Catholic, there are a few things I'm not allowed to do. One of these is simony, buying or selling spiritual things. That's a really bad idea. (Acts 8:9-24)

I've heard simony explained as not being allowed to sell the blessing related to a string of rosary beads.
"...It is impossible to appropriate to oneself spiritual goods and behave toward them as their owner or master, for they have their source in God. One can receive them only from him, without payment."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2121)
It's not buying and selling that's wrong: it's pretending that someone can sell the power of God that gets you in trouble.1 Selling the rosary beads is okay.

I think part of the notion that money is bad comes from remembering part of a few verses in the Bible:
"For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains."
(1 Timothy 6:10)

"Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never forsake you or abandon you.'"
(Hebrews 13:5)
It's "love of money," not just "money" that's bad for us. As I heard someone at the trade show say, money is morally neutral. It's what we do with money that's good or bad.

Worshiping the 'Almighty Buck?' Bad Idea

The Catholic Church forbids idolatry. Strictly (Catechism, 2112-2114, for starters)
"...Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc...."
(Catechism, 2113)
A favorite quote of mine is in this dialog from Fiddler on the Roof:
"Perchik: Money is the world's curse.
"Tevye: May the Lord smite me with it. And may I never recover."
(IMDB)
And I'm getting off-topic.

Wealth and Moderation

I've been impressed with how often the idea of 'moderation' shows up in Catholic teaching:
"Desire for true happiness frees man from his immoderate attachment to the goods of this world so that he can find his fulfillment in the vision and beatitude of God. 'The promise [of seeing God] surpasses all beatitude. . . . In Scripture, to see is to possess. . . . Whoever sees God has obtained all the goods of which he can conceive.'344"
(Catechism, 2548)

Amos: Not All That Much has Changed

I can see where (mis-)remembering "money is the root of all evil" from 1 Timothy 6:10 and Hebrews 13:5: and reading parts of Amos might let someone think that the world is divided into wicked rich people and virtuous poor folks. Here's some of what Amos had to say about the Northern Kingdom:
"Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! 1 'When will the new moon be over,' you ask, 'that we may sell our grain, and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat? We will diminish the ephah, add to the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating! We will buy the lowly man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!' 2 The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Never will I forget a thing they have done!"
(Amos 8:4-7)

27 Centuries Later, People are Still People

Just over 27 centuries after Amos had his say, some things have changed. I don't think the epha is a common measure of grain today, for one thing.

People, though, don't seem to be all that different:
"1 2 Woe to the complacent in Zion, to the overconfident on the mount of Samaria, Leaders of a nation favored from the first, to whom the people of Israel have recourse! Pass over to Calneh and see, go from there to Hamath the great, and down to Gath of the Philistines! Are you better than these kingdoms, or is your territory wider than theirs? You would put off the evil day, yet you hasten the reign of violence! Lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches, They eat lambs taken from the flock, and calves from the stall!"
(Amos 6:1-4)
Like I said, misreading part of 1 Timothy and Acts, and selecting parts of Amos: and liberation theology might start making sense. Which it doesn't, and that's another topic. Neither does the 'prosperity gospel,' and that's yet another topic.

Bottom line, as I see it, is that being wealthy is okay. What the Church does is remind us that God doesn't approve of powerful folks taking advantage of people in a weaker position. Not that all rich people are oppressors. Yet again another topic. Almost.

It's "Blessed are the Poor in Spirit"

Jesus, Son of the Living God, said that the "poor in spirit" are blessed:
"3 'Blessed are the poor in spirit,4 for theirs is the kingdom of heaven....' "
(Matthew 5:3)
That's "poor in spirit" - not "poor." So, what's "poor in spirit?"

There's an advantage to being part of an outfit that's been dealing with questions - reasonable and otherwise - for thousands of years. Here's part of an answer to that "poor in spirit" question:
"The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to 'preach good news to the poor';253 he declares them blessed, for 'theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'254 To them-the 'little ones'-the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned.255 Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst, and privation.256 Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.257"
(Catechism of the Catholic Chrurch, 544)

"Love for the poor is incompatible with immoderate love of riches or their selfish use:
"Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have killed the righteous man; he does not resist you.238"
(Catechism, 2445)
There's more, of course. (Catechism, 915, 2443, 1934-1938, 2833 for starters)

"Equality," Not "Sameness"

As far as I can tell, poverty is okay, wealth is okay: and that what matters is what a person does with either condition. Coming at the same basic idea from a different direction:
  • Human beings are equal
    (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1934, 1935)
  • But we're not all alike
    (Catechism, 1936)
  • And this is okay
    (Catechism, 1937)
I could probably trim this post down a bit, and improve it in the process: but that would take time that I don't have just now. And that reminds me of writing techniques, editing, communication, and a mess of other topics.

Sort-of-related posts:

1 Simon's reality check, in Acts:
"6 When Simon saw that the Spirit was conferred by the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money and said, 'Give me this power too, so that anyone upon whom I lay my hands may receive the holy Spirit.' But Peter said to him, 'May your money perish with you, because you thought that you could buy the gift of God with money. You have no share or lot in this matter, for your heart is not upright before God. Repent of this wickedness of yours and pray to the Lord that, if possible, your intention may be forgiven. For I see that you are filled with bitter gall and are in the bonds of iniquity.' Simon said in reply, 'Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.' "
(Acts 8:18-24)

No comments:

Like it? Share It:

Advertisement

Unique, innovative candles


Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store

Label Cloud

1277 abortion ADD ADHD-Inattentive Adoration Chapel Advent Afghanistan Africa America angels animals annulment anti-catholicism Antichrist apparitions archaeology architecture Arianism art Asperger syndrome assumptions asteroid astronomy Australia authority baptism being Catholic beliefs bias Bible Bible and Catechism bioethics biology blogs Brazil business Canada capital punishment Caritas in Veritate Catechism Catholic Church Catholic counter-culture Catholicism charisms charity Chile China Christianity Christmas citizenship climatology cloning comet common sense Communion community compassion confirmation conscience conversion cosmology creation credibility crime crucifix Cuba culture dance dark night of the soul death depression despair devotion discipline disease diversity divination Divine Mercy divorce Docetism domestic church dualism duty Easter economics education elections emotions England entertainment environmental issues Establishment Clause ethics ethnicity Eucharist eugenics Europe evangelizing evolution exobiology exoplanets exorcism extremophiles faith faith and works family Father's Day Faust Faustus First Amendment forgiveness Fortnight For Freedom free will freedom fun genetics genocide geology getting a grip global Gnosticism God God's will good judgment government gratitude guest post guilt Haiti Halloween hate health Heaven Hell HHS hierarchy history holidays Holy Family Holy See Holy Spirit holy water home schooling hope humility humor hypocrisy idolatry image of God images Immaculate Conception in the news Incarnation Independence Day India information technology Internet Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jesus John Paul II joy just war justice Kansas Kenya Knights of Columbus knowledge Korea language last things law learning Lent Lenten Chaplet life issues love magic Magisterium Manichaeism marriage Mary Mass materialism media medicine meditation Memorial Day mercy meteor meteorology Mexico Minnesota miracles Missouri moderation modesty Monophysitism Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother's Day movies music Muslims myth natural law neighbor Nestorianism New Year's Eve New Zealand news Nietzsche obedience Oceania organization original sin paleontology parish Parousia penance Pentecost Philippines physical disability physics pilgrimage politics Pope Pope in Germany 2011 population growth poverty prayer predestination pride priests prophets prostitution Providence Purgatory purpose quantum entanglement quotes reason redemption reflections relics religion religious freedom repentance resurrection robots Roman Missal Third Edition rosaries rules sacramentals Sacraments Saints salvation schools science secondary causes sex shrines sin slavery social justice solar planets soul South Sudan space aliens space exploration Spain spirituality stem cell research stereotypes stewardship stories storm Sudan suicide Sunday obligation superstition symbols technology temptation terraforming the establishment the human condition tolerance Tradition traffic Transubstantiation travel Trinity trust truth uncertainty United Kingdom vacation Vatican II veneration vengeance Veterans Day videos virtue vlog vocations voting war warp drive theory wealth weather wisdom within reason work worship writing

Following "A Catholic CItizen in America:"

Blogroll/Catholic Links

Popular Posts

Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.