Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Greed for money has brought about the downfall of many a person. Almost every day we read in the newspapers about some minister in high office, or some top executive, who has been accused of corruption. One of the most notorious cases in recent times was that of Nicholas Leeson, the man who brought down a banking empire-Barings Bank of London.
The son of a plasterer from the London suburb of Watford, Leeson never went to university. He joined Barings Bank as a simple clerk but rose quickly to where he was in charge of the bank’s Singnapore operation. He was very hard-working and very ambitious. He had an annual salary of $350,000, with gigantic bonus besides.
But he wasn’t satisfied. He began to buy and sell derivatives. At first he made huge profits for the bank. He got more and more greedy. He hid some of his transactions from his bosses. In the end he took a huge gamble that didn’t pay off, and he broke the whole bank.
In such situations people pay for wrong-doing in currencies far more precious than money. They pay with loss of self –respect, dignity, and hope. Of course, there is always the chance of cashing in by selling one’s story to the tabloids. But here again there is a price to be paid. Whatever little dignity one had before, one will have even less afterwards.
Leeson reminds us a little of the servant in Jesus’ parable. It seems that like Leeson, the servant was corrupted by money. Given the importance of money in the world we live in, it can easily become our god too. We may put it before honesty, before justice, even before family life. People are brainwashed into believing that owning more is good. The average person can get so fogged up that he has no perspective on what’s really important any more.
Amos condemned those who paid lip service to God on the Sabbath but exploited the poor for the rest of the week. Jesus says we can’t serve both God and money. You can’t serve others and serve money too.
Once a very rich but miserly man went to his rabbi and asked for his blessing. The rabbi greeted him in a friendly manner and brought him into his living room. Then he led him to the window which looked out on the street and said, ‘Look out there and tell me what you see.’
‘I see people walking about,’ the rich man answered.
Then the rabbi took him away from the window and having placed a large mirror before him said, ‘Look into the mirror and tell what you see.’
‘I see myself,’ the man replied.
‘Now, my friend, let me explain the meaning of this to you. The window is made of glass, as also is the mirror. However, the glass of the mirror has a veneer of silver on it. When you look through plain glass you see only yourself. When you are concerned only with money, you stop seeing others and see only yourself.’
We don’t get satisfaction or meaning from things. But when we devote ourselves to serving others, that gives us purpose and meaning. Giving to other people is what makes us feel alive.
Money may buy the husks of things but it cannot buy the kernel. It brings you food but not appetite, medicine but not health, acquaintances but not friends, servants but not faithfulness, days of pleasure but not peace and happiness. (Henrik Ibsen)
Peace and everything good!
Fr. Valery Burusu