Day Thirty-One: Greed or Generosity?

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Greed elevates material possessions above spiritual ones and begins with the lie that more is good and less is bad. The truth is that material possessions add nothing to our fulfillment or full human satisfaction. When one lives in destitution and is unable to provide for self or family, this imposes a heavy burden. But even in destitution, true happiness can be found. The presence of love and every other virtue is the sole determiner of the level of happiness in life.

Greed comes in many forms. An excessive desire for money or material possessions is the most common form. Greed can also manifest itself in any act of selfishness, such as wastefulness with time and talents that should be used for the fulfillment of God’s will.

For those who are advancing in prayer, spiritual greed—like the other spiritual sins—is a desire for sweet feelings and experiences, elevating those feelings over the God Who sometimes gives those experiences. As with every spiritual sin, it is essential that a person be at peace and find joy in dryness and sacrifice, willingly accepting the “poverty” of a loss of sweet feelings at times. This is not the same as a loss of joy or peace. Joy and peace always remain in those who are deeply united to God, but the sweet feelings within the senses might be diminished or lost altogether.

The cure for greed is generosity and poverty of spirit. Generosity is an act based on true wisdom. Being generous means you have discovered the real purpose of all of your material and spiritual possessions. Materially, you use what you have exclusively for the glory of God—providing for your family, charities, the Church, or the poor. It also means living a simple life that does not indulge. Though some material blessings are a normal part of healthy living, especially within a family, care is taken not to become excessive. Spiritual generosity comes in the form of using your mind, talents, and time for the glory of God and the spiritual good of yourself and others.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 4:3). This beatitude calls us to depend completely upon God for all things. It is a cure for greed because greed leads us to believe we must be self-sufficient, leading to an amassing of money and possessions as the road to supposed happiness. Poverty of spirit enables us to shed that lie and to recognize and trust in God’s providence. Those who are poor in spirit act responsibly with what they have, but they go beyond that and see all that they have—both physical and spiritual—as gifts from God to be used only in accord with God’s will.

From the Cross, Jesus performed an act of the utmost generosity. Not only did He give His life for our salvation, He also gave His most precious possession to us all—His own mother. To His mother He said, “Woman, behold, your son.” And to John, who symbolizes all humanity, He said, “Behold, your mother” (John 19:26–27). We must imitate this complete generosity.

Ponder your need to become detached and poor in spirit by seeing your total dependence on God. As you do, become wholeheartedly generous, knowing that you must give all that God has given you. Doing so will increase His spiritual gifts in you in superabundance.

Most generous Lord, You have given all to me. I commit to use all I have received for Your glory and the good of others. May I become truly generous as I embrace my total dependence on You, and may I see You and Your perfect will as the greatest possession I have. Jesus, I trust in You.

See also: Day Thirty-One: 40 Days at the Foot of the Cross

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