Meditation for Thursday of the 2nd Week of Lent

First Reading: Jeremiah 17:5-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
Gospel: Luke 16:19-31

One of the most basic ways to show trust in God is with our finances.  It’s so basic, in fact, that "In God We Trust" is even written on our money.  But what does it mean to trust God, for example, about our finances?  What can money teach us about God?

The readings say that those who trust and hope in God are not just like a growing tree, but like one by running waters.  What is so important about running water?  For starters, it’s not stagnant, so it’s more likely to give life.  Stagnant waters tend to grow poisonous and eventually dry up, taking with them all that depended upon them.

This is not just a lesson of natural biology, but it is also a concept of economics that businesses and even governments understand.  When money flows through an economy, the country thrives.  However, when the money flow slows – when individuals and businesses stop purchasing or even investing, and instead hold on to (and even hoard) what they have – the nation, and its people and businesses, suffer (cf. Matt 25:25-29).

The same concept holds true in God’s economy of graces.  The Lord gives blessings to us all (some more or less than others), but these blessings are given to be shared, not hoarded.  When we give to others from what God has given to us, we are showing faith that the rivers of blessings will continue to flow around us – even though we are sending some out away from us, we trust that more will come back to us.

This is not the same thing as socialism, where nobody owns anything.  Quite the opposite – the negative commandment "Thou shalt not steal" implies the positive that we must own something that can be stolen in the first place.  However, this ownership of private property is one of the ways that God tests the human heart.  The right to own some property does not mean the goal is to get as much as possible, just as the right to marriage does not imply polygamy.  Rather, the right to property comes with the responsibility of knowing how much we need, how much is enough, and how much is an abundance (or in most cases, an over-abundance) that should be shared with those who have less.

If we neglect this responsibility toward our fellow man, we are as evil by our inaction as we would be if we actively attacked them.  This is what is meant by, "More tortuous that all else is the human heart": the fact that a heart can be cold toward those in need is more torture than physical violence could do.  The eye that turns away and the hand that does not help is more cruel than the hand that strikes or the eye that glares – while the latter can bruise the body or accuse of evil, the former taunts and teases the body and the soul with unrealized hopes and unfulfilled promises of good.

Again, this not only applies to economics, but also to God’s blessings.  If we have been blessed with spiritual gifts, yet do not use them to help our fellow man, who may be suffering from spiritual poverty, then not only have we harmed our brother through neglect, but the well of graces will bry up for us, our spirits will become stagnant, and our souls will become good for nothing but being sealed up and marked as poison for anyone else to partake of.

This is the primary reason we are told to count our blessings – not just to take inventory of the reasons to thank God, but also to see where we have a surplus that we can share with those who have a deficit.  Christ is the head, and we, the Church, are the Mystical Body of Christ (cf. Eph 5:30).  If we, the body, do not give God’s blessings (monetary or otherwise) to others, who will? 

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