We would first of all like to acknowledge the efforts of Father Emmanuel, the spiritual Father for many of us, in preparing and conducting the Bible Study lessons each week. They allow us to grow in knowledge and spiritual understanding for the ultimate goal of drawing nearer to God. Furthermore, it should be noted that the ideas drawn in this article are merely summations of the talks given to us each week, and are not intended to replace the talks themselves.
The main focus point for this week was money, and the love of it based on the themes of the last chapter of the first letter of St Paul to St Timothy.
We should be careful that we don’t let money become the centre of our lives. Just as it is written, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10)
We only have to look at the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. It was out of love of money and greed that he was driven to betray Jesus and to deliver him up to the Jews to be crucified. They gave him 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus. Just as is referred in the above, “Money is a root of all kinds of evil.”
To illustrate the effect that the love of money can have, and how it contradicts the teachings of the Holy Gospel, an example was given. In this example, there was a gardener, and the gardener didn’t earn very much but whatever he made, he gave to those in need. God provided for this man and took care of him. One day, a thought entered his mind, and he thought to himself that he would keep a little aside for when he grows old and needs it. He started doing this, putting money aside, until one day, he got sick. Spending all his money on doctors, they eventually came back to him and said they would have to amputate one of his legs. The man, hearing this, went away and remembering what he had done repented for hoarding his money away. Hearing his repentant spirit an angel of the Lord came done and the man seeing this, said that he would no longer store up money for himself and asked for God to heal him. At that moment, the angel touched him, and he was instantly healed. When his physician inquired about him for fear of his ill health he was astounded to find him in good health working in the field once again.
While the story goes on, the moral of it is that we should trust in God in all things, and not in ourselves or the possessions that we may accumulate. Like in the parable of the rich man who had a great harvest and, not having enough room to store it all, said that he would pull down his barn and build a bigger barn. With this, he continued, “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you…” (Luke 12:19-20)
With money, it is never enough, and we are never satisfied, and so money takes over our lives and becomes a god, with us worshipping it. This doesn’t, however, mean that we should all live in poverty but that we should place God first in all things. Jesus even tells us in the Gospel of Matthew, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)
As it is written, in all things we should love God, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Whether it be money, food, clothing, or anything else. God must come first in all things and we should not love anything more than God. This is the first of the Ten Commandments.
Outside of this main theme, Father briefly touched on several other points.
The first carried on from the previous week, and that was of the family structure within the Church. We are told to view those older than us as our mothers and fathers, those the same age as us as our brothers and sisters, and those younger than us as our children. In all these, a level of respect must be given to those that are older than us, regardless of rank. Unfortunately, in today’s society, this respect has been lost, unlike in times gone by.
In introducing the lesson, Father also put together some thoughts for the week that he felt would be helpful.
The first is the absorption of self into self, where all we think about is ourselves. If we become too focussed on ourselves, then we are unable to think of anything else outside of our own interests and pursuits so that we are consumed by it. This seems to be quite common these days. Everyone thinks about how something affects themselves, with little concern for other people.
The second is love and authority. When we are in a position of authority, we need to have love guiding us, and treat people accordingly. To execute our responsibilities without concern for who we are serving is not what God wants of us. It is not the task itself that is important but our focus should be on the person we are serving no matter what it is that we do. We should have love for one another.
Take for example a plumber who is hired to do a job but instead of using quality materials, goes for cheap ones so as to cut down his expenses and make a greater profit. In this, because the materials are not good quality, a fault may develop in the future that will cost the person more money to fix it. Instead, we should have love for the person and do the job that we are paid to do, without letting greed or dishonesty influence us.
Lastly, Father spoke of situations where our rational mind may become disconnected from the state of our heart. In this regard a person becomes rational and calculating so that they relentlessly pursue their own interests at the expense of considering the needs of others which in turn compromises our integrity before God.