Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
Wall Street 2: Money never Sleeps, directed by Oliver Stone, with Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko, a movie released theatrically in September 2010, was a sequel of Wall Street produced in 1987, which proclaimed that greed is good. Wall Street 2 proclaimed that greed is not only good, but also legal (www.azfamily.com). Thus, what is done by the influential, the wealthy and the powerful seems to become the rule, and imitated by others; and when Wall Street crumbled financially, the economy crumbled, and upset the business world dramatically.
Generally, we would think that greed refers only to over indulgence in food and drink. But it also applies situations of opportunism, especially those that take advantage of others’ trust and weaknesses; and we know, that any transgression against the weak and the poor is a transgression against God, for God loves the poor and calls them blessed.
To Cain who killed his brother, Abel, God said: What have you done! Listen: your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil! (Gen 4:10). Again in the Book of Genesis, God said, regarding the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah: The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave, that I must go down and see whether or not their actions fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me (18:20-21). In the Book of Exodus we read: the Israelites groaned and cried out because of their slavery. As their cry for release went up to God, He heard their groaning and was mindful of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (23-24). Moreover, Deuteronomy declares: You shall not defraud a poor and needy hired servant…. You shall pay him each day’s wages before sundown on the day itself, since he is poor and looks forward to them. Otherwise he will cry to the LORD against you, and you will be held guilty (24:14-15). St. James also proclaims: Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts (Ja 5:4).
It is all because of greed to satisfy need to avenge for a hurt or need to fill up a recognized or unrecognized lack in personality, and greed to satisfy need for pleasure, need to accumulate property and need to garner recognition, fame and esteem in the family and among friends. So, greed is responsible for:
– the massacre and murder of people, break up of families and disorientation of the youth due to prohibited drug production and use;
– the innumerable medically and intentionally induced abortions;
– family disputes leading to murder of members due to conflicts regarding land and other properties;
– the unending production of weapons and prolongation of wars leading to annihilation of weaker groups, tribes and families, as well as subjugation of overpowered nations;
– sex trade and dubious recruitment for work leading to sexual abuse of women and children, as well as proliferation of pornographic materials;
– the abuse of natural resources for the profit of only a few;
– the arbitrary and premeditated clamp down of companies leading to dismissal of employees that broadens the problem of unemployment;
– the persecution, disregard and disrespect of the poor, and discrimination because of race, culture and religion;
– the use of force and abuse of authority concerning travelers’ rights and privileges in many borders and countries around the world;
– hunger and deaths due to extreme poverty in many parts of the world;
– the withholding of commodities meant for calamity victims in calamity-damaged areas; and many others.
We can also apply these situations to our families and work situations and reflect on the times when we uncontrollably lose our temper with others to the point of enjoyment, when we care less about taking more than we need at the expense of others, when we pride ourselves of our achievements and influence while stepping on the rights of others, when we work like a horse to earn more without consideration of the time we need to spend with our families. Yes, it is greed.
What can we do? 1) St. Paul exhorts us to “put to death immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry (Col 3:5). 2) St. James tells us to be patient until the coming of the Lord and to make our hearts firm for the Judge is standing before the gates (5:7-10). 3) Join groups and crusades that rally against and do something to resolve problems caused by greed, and educate our own families in generosity and kindness, care for the environment and respect for others, especially the weaker members of the community. 4) Pray. Many problems in this world can only be solved by prayer, for God is the Master of all. When we pray, let us cooperate with the Holy Spirit to obey His Will and glorify His name.