One of the more underreported sins is greed. Too easily do we conclude that greed is always about “that other person over there,” who appears to have a little more than I do. Yes, that rich guy over there, the one who earns a dollar more per hour than I do; he is greedy, but I’m not.

But honestly, for all of us, when do we ever come to a place in our life when we say, “I’m earning more than enough money, I’ll just give the rest away to the poor, or to some worthy cause.” Do most people ever come to that point? Not on your life! Consider a man who earns a million dollars a year. When does he ever say, “Honestly, I really only need about $200,000 a year to live very well; I think I’ll just give the other $800,000 away”?

Almost never would such a thought even occur to the average person. Instead, most of us just expand our lifestyle and go on complaining that we still don’t have enough. Yet somewhere along the line, we ought to admit that we do cross over into greed.

What is greed? Greed is the insatiable desire for more. It is a deep drive in us that, no matter how much we have, makes us think it’s not enough. We still want more. And then we get more and we still want more. And the cycle continues. This is the experience of greed.

But, familiar though this is, too few of us are willing to consider that greed is really a problem we can have. Greed is always something that other guy has.

Of course it doesn’t help that we live in a culture of consumption, which constantly tells us we don’t have enough. The car we’re driving isn’t as good as this other car we could be driving (according to the commercial). And so even though we have a perfectly good car: one that has four wheels, a working engine, and probably even air-conditioning, it still it isn’t good enough, and we are actually drawn to feeling deprived by the clever marketing experts of Madison Avenue. So it is with almost every other product or amenity that is sold to us on a daily basis. Therefore it almost never occurs to most of us that we may have crossed the line somewhere into greed. Despite having even six- and seven-figure incomes, many still feel deprived.

But this is all the more reason that we should spend some time reflecting on the nature of greed. Greed is a deep drive of sin, one of the deadly sins, and it brings with it a kind of blindness and illusion that causes us to mistake mere wants for true needs. And as we entertain the illusion that mere wants are actually serious needs, there’s very little to trigger in us the thought that we actually have more than enough. There is very little to cause me to say, “Gee, I’ve gotten greedy” or to work to curb the insatiable desire for more that we call greed.

Once again, it’s the other guy that’s greedy; I’m not. It’s a problem that those nasty rich and powerful people have. Never mind that I’m pretty darned rich myself, living in a home with running water, air conditioning, and amenities like granite countertops and widescreen TVs.

Frankly, when was the last time you heard a sermon on greed? And if you did, it was probably the priest talking about some abstract group of people (not present, of course) who probably also hold the “wrong” political opinions, etc. Yes, greed is always somebody else’s problem.

But when do I honestly look at myself and wonder if I am greedy? When do I ever conclude, on a very personal level, that I have more than enough and that I need to be a lot more generous with what has become excessive in my life? When do I ever apply the old precept that if I have two coats, one of them belongs to the poor? And yes, I understand that it’s good to have something laid up for a rainy day. But when do I ever ask myself if I’m really trusting in God, or just trusting in my rainy day fund? When do I ever wonder if I’ve crossed the line?

I realize that some of you who read this post will find it disturbing. Let me assure you, so do I. These are uncomfortable questions.

Let me also assure you that I do not write this post from a political perspective. I do not want the government mandating how much I can or should earn, and how much I can or should give away. I speak here of a very personal moral assessment that we all should make.

I also do not write as an economist. I realize that market-based economies are complex, and that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with meeting people’s needs with products and services. I am also aware that markets supply jobs. But here again I must insist that somewhere we all ought to ask some personal questions about limits. We cannot simply conclude that greed is always the other guy’s problem.

Greed is one of the seven deadly sins, and so we ought to take it more seriously than many of us do. Yes, somewhere there’s room for most of us to reflect on one of the most underreported sins: greed.

46 Responses

  1. annaincalifornia says:

    Msgr Pope, please pray for my anger and hurt for not having what others have…a spouse.

  2. Bender says:

    Fair point, Monsignor. But I submit that in making that point, you then make the same error you protest against.

    “Too easily do we conclude the greed is always about that other person over there . . . Despite even six and seven figure incomes, many still feel deprived and lacking. . . . Never mind that I’m pretty darn rich myself, living in an air-conditioned home, with running water, and well apportioned amenities and items like granite countertops, widescreen TVs, etc.”

    For most of us, the examples you give ARE the other person over there, those examples are examples of rich people. So let’s cut to the chase — Can a poor person be greedy?

    • Define poor. Are there even poor people in America? If I go to Haiti I’d say there are no poor in America. But here in America we talk of the poor among us.

      As for making the error I protest (against), I think I am absolutely clear on that point. Does not my article make that eminently clear? I obviously do include myself among those who make the error (actually I would call it a sin) that I protest. the use of the 6 or seven figure income is only to show that there seems to be no upper limit in our culture of finally concluding, I have more than enough, i.e. it doesn’t seem to matter how much is made, it is never enough. That’s how greed messes with our mind. It is a human problem not related to income. So to answer your question, “Sure, a “poor” person (whatever that means in a country like this) can be greedy.

      • David F says:

        There are poor here; homeless people who have nothing. The material sin of the poor is envy, and it’s deadly too. Of course you can be both greedy and envious simultaneously. They are related sins.

  3. edraCRUZ says:

    Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!!! In an outreach ministry we have done, we ask the elder to bless the food we had brought. His prayer was, “Thank you, LORD for this food we are about to eat, may we have food for tonight also.” 70-80% of the world’s population pray like him. Yet, many of us here in the USA with cupboards and pantries filled to the brim, cabinets full of dresses, a car, sometimes more, for each person, a four room house each with television, still complaining of inadequacy and lack of something else more. Greed. What an awful word that describes the inside of a man. My necessity is already a luxury for others. I think I shall give away that which is needed by others and live my life in simplicity. Thank you, Monsignor.

  4. Pam H. says:

    BTW, there ARE poor people in America, even compared to Haiti. They wander around our streets, pushing shopping carts full of junk, and sleeping on doorsteps. I don’t mean the beggars with well-fed dogs, but the filthy ones dressed in rags. I see them every week. It is a struggle, to decide when I have “enough”. There are also children in shabby apartments, who don’t get enough to eat every day, and whose clothes don’t really fit them, or are inadequate. They are hard to find, for some of us, but they are out there. This is what bothers me, when I see comments about “the poor” wanting to have what the rest of us have without working for it. At a certain level (far below what most people call “poor”) it’s impossible for many to get ahead, even with two jobs – and the jobs one can get are too exhausting for most people to keep that up for long. Only strong young men and women can do it, and they are not all strong or young.

  5. Gary Martin says:

    Without God the cultural measure of a person is wealth. Historically, the Catholic Church was the anchor of man’s conscience. Individual charity was tied to our core belief and devotion to God.

    The difference today, I think, is that the Church no longer emphasizes individual charity. The focus strangely seems to be to lobbying godless government to be charitable. In the past, the Church institutionalized charity by seeking the generosity of the faithful for the less fortunate and disadvantaged throughout the world. It was the Church that reminded us that what we do for others we do for Him. It is that emphasis that seems to have changed.

    As for the faithful, well, I think many/some within the Church are very aware of the excess of wealth. Through the influence of more traditional devotions, for example, some individuals even offer all they have to God to be done with at His discretion. So, although unspoken, all is not lost.

  6. Fr.Elias B. Rodrigues says:

    Even the so called poor in u.s.should check on
    the two following counts:
    1.Am I ready to share things that I have stored up but actually do not use?
    2.what kind of awareness do I have of those who are less fortunate than I ?

  7. Marguerite says:

    Living in NY, even the mentally ill hoard things as they walk around picking up garbage and other stuff to put into their shopping carts. We hoard because of the primary mortal sin of Greed and the secondary emotional problem of insecurity. We are a consumerist and materialist society and consequently judge one another on what we have, not on who we are. I did a test of walking into Tiffany’s all dressed up to have a watch repaired. Treated like gold. When I returned to pick up the watch, I dressed casually and was told to take my watch to a regular jewelry store next time it needed a replacement battery. P.S. The watch was from Tiffany’s and was given to me by my firm.

  8. Nancy says:

    Pope Francis has taken so much public criticism (starting with Rush Limbaugh) regarding his remarks about wealth “redistribution.” I suspect that what our Holy Father is speaking of is actually what you address in this article. Your thoughts, please?

    • I have not kept up with all he has said so I cannot comment specifically. However, just to be clear, in this article I am not calling for government involvement in what constitutes greed. Sorry I can’t be more specific.

    • Anne says:

      Pope Francis has stated many times that there must be structural change in the world economies. He has stated in his most recent interviews that the economic systems are failing in a moral obligation to the individual person. This in no way lessens the obligation for personal charity but also personal charity does not lessen the obligation for structural change.

      • Pilar says:

        Pope Francis had interesting things to say yesterday on curruption and how it represents (my reading) the exarcerbation of greed and selfishness.

  9. Artfldgr says:

    I think that the author needs more meditation on what greed is, and what would determine greed vs need, vs responsibility that god asks of us.

    Greed can not be determined until one determines what one needs.
    its very easy for someone to pick an arbitrary number out of their holy arses, but thats not valid.

    GOD knows what greed would be, because god knows what need is, and what he needs for you to have for hsi plan. that is, what if god wants me to take my talents and increase what he gives me so that i can build a institution that then hires hundreds of people and pulls them out of poverty in india, or my wifes country of indonesia.

    i would think that quiting short at 200k is being greedy..

    well… its too simplistic to say… greed is about money… maybe if your a marxist christian, which is an oxymoron, but the landscape is dotted with those that serve two masters and one less than the other.

    I went to bronx science.. i have lots of talents… i endeavor to build a company…
    to take the talents given, and then increase them, and so SHARE the wealth with others.
    but not necessarily directly as charity given, for that ROTS the soul
    but by creating some place where a man or woman can do an honest days labor and reward.

    but… to say at 200k i haev enough.
    then i may not look greedy in this persons eyes..
    i may even be able to pose as the hypocrites who want their rewards on earth.

    oh lord. see? i have not gone past 200k… i have not taken your 2 talents and made four
    i am such a good servant.

    not at all.
    because a man who is ble to make so much, is a man with gifts that god means for him to share.
    to quit at 200k, is to say… i am pious for i make no more and i give away what i would use my talents with.

    then what?
    well.. he doesnt have enough for a company, and expansions, and never hires those people
    those people may never have children… so be fruitful and multiply is undone…

    and he can now sit around and maybe have barbecue… or watch the game.

    ie. he gets to be greedy with his talents… keeping them to himself, and using them to earn just enough for a comfortable life… if he was destined to make a institution like a baptist school, he can give up. he has not the capital or control over it to make it happen… the 50,000 employees, will never benefit from his talents. they wont do it on their own…

    so no…
    keeping your talents to themselves and not empowering them with gods rewards given by god to do good works is not a piety…

    its being greedy while pretending not to be.

    why teach in opposition to the parable of the talents?

    • Thanks for the invitation to more meditation. I invite you to do the same. As for your biblical theology, I think more study might be needed for you as well as meditation since the parable of the talents is not a parable about greed or the glory of wealth or economics (in the modern sense of that term). It is a parable about faith and grace and our need to respond and use our gifts in accord with the true owner of all our things, God. I do not teach in opposition to it. Also don’t be too fixed on the 200K figure. I am not setting an amount per se, but just wondering if any of us ever ask ourselves or determine that we have more than enough and plan to distribute the excess. Granted, if I own a business that involves the need for risk management and the purchase of large assists etc, 200K may not be enough. But if I am single, and an employee etc the assessment may be different. IOW it is not the amount, don’t get stuck on that. The issue is greed, and when do I ever say to myself, I have enough, with the rest I will be generous to others? For your meditation (and mine) the focus is on greed, not on economies, business or other people’s souls (i.e. your assessment that giving to others rots their soul). Stay in your lane and ask the question for yourself, as I must do. It’s about you Art. It’s about me. And when I determine I should be generous, fine, then how the money is best distributed (personally or to causes) can be determined. But ask the question, and seek to answer it.

  10. Pete says:

    With greed, you have to twist and turn to make it seem good somehow. “Greed is good!” (Wall Street) No one wants to be called “greedy.” But I’ve often wondered about pride. No one has a problem with being “proud.” Does this word have two different meanings? Not according to the dictionary. Everyone knows it’s a sin, right? But we use it and proclaim our “pride” every day. A standard dictionary definition states pride means “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.” People use it all the time. “I’m proud to announce…I’m so proud of…with pride in our past…”etc. But every time pride is mentioned in the Bible it’s decidedly negative. Pride going before destruction, the Lord humbling the proud, becoming proud and forgetting the Lord, love is never proud, when pride comes, then comes disgrace. Should we avoid using this word, or is it harmless and just a different meaning than in the Bible?

  11. Charles Marvin says:

    Another sin that is discussed far less in any Church is the sin of coveting your neighbor’s house.

    For some reason the Church seems historically to favor societies that are monarchies, but in a free market, it is the rich that mostly make the jobs for the rest of us, where most can afford to have families with housing, sufficient food and healthcare. Usually this is a constant struggle, but it’s the millionaire that needs another employee to produce additional product to better satisfy the market, so he can collect that little extra profit. Governments, Churches and other nonprofit organizations produce very few jobs that pay less than the free market because they are not motivated by profit. Historically, real poverty is found in societies where the government or Churches provide the jobs because wealth has to be created.

    For a long time I have been asking why Jesus didn’t just abolish poverty for all time while he was with us on earth, because surely he has the power and the authority to do so. Jesus could have merely waved his hand and then poverty and all suffering would vanish forever…nobody would have stopped him. Would not the angels in heaven rush to satisfy this command from the Son of God ?

    When I went through RCIA, it seemed that I was the only person that would stand up defend my country from the criticisms against it from the those teaching the classes. Whenever there is a disaster in the world, the only country that ever shows up to try to help, is the United States and her people. I see no other country that does this. Does the Pope or his Bishops and Priests ever make a positive comment or blessing on the United States because we do this ??

    No….perhaps this one reason people are leaving the Church.

    • Anne says:

      A recent world disaster took place in the Philippines recently … Typhoon Haiyan. Many countries matched or exceeded the aid given by U.S. You can check this out on Wikipedia or other sources.
      I don’t mean this as a criticism of this country, just a fact.

      • Yes. Overall I think Americans are very generous in times like that, so the info surprises me a bit.

      • Mark Rios says:

        Did these other countries come from a half a world away? Did they arrive in US ships and aircraft bring US personnel to provide lifesaving aid to this ravaged country? Perhaps Wiki is right (it isn’t always); but in general, year after year, the US leads these efforts–with almost no recognition.

  12. OK, so maybe a little redirect of the conversation here from me (the author). I realize a subject like this ignites a lot of other conversations and thought about things like economy, politics, government, etc. But my focus here is to get us to personally reflect on the sin of greed. If the conversation moves to politics and economy, fine but that is not my focus here and I think it may also amount to a deflection wherein Greed is always something abstract and always the other guy’s problem. Greed is a human problem. To some degree or another we all struggle with it.

    If you want to talk about economy and politics fine, (though I suspect deflection). But I will not be engaged on such matters since I am neither a politician, nor an economist. I will leave the temporal order to experts among the laity. Frankly I think too many of us clerics opine too easily and frequently on matters of the temporal order which should remain the focus of the lay faithful.

    As for me, I am raising a moral issue and focusing it at the personal level, not at statecraft or economic theory. I do make some focus on culture since I think our capacity today through media to incite desire and meet desires affects us. But my point is culture. I do not assert that it is evil to advertise etc., only that it strongly influences us.

    Hence if y’all want to discuss politics and economics, fine. But don’t engage me on that, talk to each other. And remember, my question and focus is personal, very personal. When do you or I ever say, “I have more than enough, and instead of building a bigger barn, I’m going to give the rest away or consign it to the common good.” ?

    • Pilar says:

      Many thanks Monsignor.
      I actually do what you suggest but I find it very difficult (as you suggest too). It is worth however to do the examination of conscience on greed regularly. It can help to keep ourselves sane. In my case I have actually started to improve and now that I go to church often (daily if I can) I try to give generously each time. I find it very difficult as it is easy to feel that you need every coin that you have. But it is liberating too to save on superfluous things which I used to slave for. These mainly create clutter, luggage and pain; in my own experience of many years amassing them.

  13. K. Matthew Grinstead says:

    Thank you for writing this, Monsignor. Much to think about from your post and from some of the comments. I offer my take on greed (covetousness) here:

    http://rightequalsmight.blogspot.com/2014/05/covetousness.html

    “The covetous man is always in want.” –Horace

    God bless!

  14. Nathaniel says:

    What do we really need? Basic human needs are simple, water, food, shelter and maybe clothing. If you look at the most primitive peoples they don’t have much. I do enjoy living in a nice home and having a nice car. But I realize I don’t need them and try to be grateful that I have so many nice things. It is my opinion that the US has become a greedy culture and is, not surprisingly, not happier because of that. I try to not buy into our culture but it can be difficult and I could always do better at truly living with the understanding that what you own in this world is nothing compared to eternity.

    Greed is really not related to a persons wealth or income. A poor person can be just as greedy or more greedy than a rich person. In fact greed can lead to poverty. A greedy person may be dishonest and unfair in his dealings trying to achieve the riches he desires. He may even seek ‘shortcuts’ such as stealing. His approach to the world might cause him to fail to achieve what he most wants.

  15. Lou in Paradise says:

    I feel we could learn from the life of Pierre Toussaint. He knew when he made enough.

  16. Paul says:

    Msgr. Pope: Another thoughtful blog. I think contemplating our own greed is challenging because from a strict standpoint, virtually all of our lives are full of luxuries that we don’t strictly need – at least this is the case for most of us living the U.S. All we really need to live is probably a 10×10 room with some temperature control, maybe one pair of clothes, and maybe one meal every day or two. Yet even those of us who live frugal lives have so much more than that. So it is hard to know where to draw the line in terms of which luxuries are permissible versus which are excessive. This is made even more complicated for those of us who have families and who want to provide things for our children. We need to decide what sorts of things would enrich their lives versus things that may be merely excessive status symbols. We want to be generous with them but we don’t want to spoil them. For me I think the answer may lie in deciding whether the desire for some thing becomes stronger than the desire for more important things, or whether wanting a certain thing actually inhibits my more important moral responsibilities. For example if I want a boat so much that I end up working extra hours, neglecting my family, in order to get it, then this is a problem. If my thoughts are so consumed with the acquisition of the new boat that I no longer think of God then this would be a problem. So I guess it is a question of priorities.

    • Some good thoughts here. As for drawing the line, I agree, it is difficult. We all have to make some very personal assessments here. One point I make in the article is that too few of us ever even consider that there is a line to draw.

      As a priest, I get a salary. But most of my needs are covered by the parish and the people of God. From my salary I do not have to buy food, housing, healthcare etc. All that is provided already. So my salary is almost all disposable income. After buying a few clothes, and personal necessities, there’s a lot left over beyond what I need. In recent years I received the grace to give almost all my salary away every year. I realize that I am in a unique situation that few could imitate. But honestly, we priests live so well. How many people do you know who have almost 30K disposable income every year? I DO keep my 403b funded and have set aside a little money for later years so that I am not a burden on others. But honestly, I don’t need 30K a year for myself since all my essentials are provided. Thats my assessment, the line that I draw, but only for myself. Some of my brother priests have different situations, some use their money to care for family etc. Parents and others have to keep in mind not only their future, but that of their kids and grandkids. So all of this is complex, and drawing a line is both complex and personal.

      But back to the central point, do any of us ever even think of drawing a line in the sort of culture we live in?

      • Thomas Vogler says:

        In myself, I notice a few different sorts of greed. First, there is the fear of loss. My fingers tighten around what I have. The second is hope of gain. “Oh, what I might do, if I had X.” Common to both these tendencies is a lack of faith in sufficiency, in providence. It helps me that I am not happy, when my actions and innactions are driven by fear and lack of trust in God. I try to bear in mind that nothing I have, materially, is mine. I only have the use of things, a brief stewardship of them. Granted, many things do not survive my use. When I am done with a pair of trousers, only the utterly naked would want them.

        Greed lives in my heart, and I suppose it always will. It speaks up when I am tired, when I am stressed. More than material things, what I covet is solitude, moments where I can be unavailable to other people, free of responsibilities and obligations, removed from the pressing needs of other people. That is stingy, and there is a sort of cowardice in it. I agree that objective criteria are of limited use, in determining greed. In a way, the very act of trying to calculate greed by externals, by signifiers like cars or incomes or what have you, seems to participate in the materialism of greed. One of my neighbors owns a couple of Lexuses and a new home, while across the alley, there is a family of four sharing the use of a decrepit bicycle. I’ve got another neighbor, a mother with two children, who mostly live on ramen noodles, and often don’t have them. In my ‘fridge there are frozen steaks, and a bunch of other stuff. A bottle of truffle oil, of all things. I trust that greed is a lively force in all our lives. I also trust that greed can, in fact, be good, if one attends to one’s own, and uses it as a sort of negative council. When, mentally, my fingers stiffen around my wallet as I pass a beggar, that shows me I am protecting the wrong thing. It is not my wallet I am protecting, but my heart I am closing. In such moments, if I am able, I stop and talk with the person, usually briefly, and give them some money and God’s blessing, making it as personal as I can, and often they give me God’s blessing back. This exchange of blessings can be an empty formality, a politeness, but it can also be quite real. The difference depends in part upon my own realness and presence, and partly on the condition of the other. I believe the blessings of beggars have done a great deal for me in my life, and I pray mine have had some benefit for them, beyond a meal, or a room for that night.

        It’s that stinginess of heart that grieves me the most in myself. As if I can’t afford to see, in those around me, the individual people for whom Jesus gave his life. That thought is with me more and more lately. Because it is true, of every person I meet, that God went so far as to die, particularly and specifically, for him or her, for the mystery that is that person. I meditate on that love. It helps me to become more curious about, and open towards, the many people in this world.

    • Matthew Wade says:

      Paul, I think you’ve given a great practical guideline. I am struggling with this situation in my own life. I’m given a month off work paid sabbatical every five years. Mine is upon me this summer, and my wife and I struggle with how to spend our time/$$$. There are a great many things I can think of giving to my wife with this time and money, perhaps a great vacation or some new additions to our home. However, I have lost sight of the fact that the first thing I can give is a greater amount of my time being present to her. This is in addition to my relationship with my Lord, and my many other neighbors. You’ve helped call me to a deeper assessment of my own values. I appreciate that.

      I also see that there is a growing (albeit secular) movement among Millennials and GenXers to go “minimalist” and “essentialist”. This movement has many good ideas and advice, even if it isn’t overtly flavored with the salt of the Gospel. I keep up with various bloggers who write about minimalism in consumption, financial independence, and pursuing more important relationships. I’ve often thought about how much this sector of the blogosphere would benefit from a genuinely Catholic perspective.

  17. tibbie says:

    Thank you for bringing up this particular sin, Msgr. Pope. I need the reminder. I’ve started mentioning it in Confession and praying for help when I get into the “gimmee, gimmee” state of mind. (Now that I’ve written this I’ll be tempted to the sin of pride, pride in my humility. Oh to remember that all we have is what God put there in the first place-and it’s all on loan anyway!) It’s so easy to rationalize greed. The ‘ole “well I deserve this” especially gets to me.

    However, perhaps in the future when you bring up a particular deadly sin, you could also mention its opposing virtue so we can have somewhere positive to turn to from the guilt. I get so dejected over my many, many flaws and sins then sink into despair — and I’ve been in therapy for some time now for major depression.

    Is generosity greed’s opposing virtue? I’ve heard that giving little anonymous gifts – like mailing a $20 to someone randomly picked out of the phone book is one way of combatting greed.

  18. liz says:

    Love this article. Thank you, Msgr. It can be tough for people to hear some of this (for me as well), but it’s an important and indispensable component of our Faith. I seem to recall that, in the Gospels, when his followers asked St. John the Baptist what one should do to be holy, instead of bringing up the Commandments and the laws of Moses….of all the things he could have said, he told them that if they possessed two cloaks and their brother had none, to give away one. There’s a similar exhortation, I think, in the Letter of Saint James. And then Saint Paul praised the Macedonians who, though poor themselves, gave alms generously. Scripture is sprinkled pretty heavily with these warnings against greed; it would be beneficial to all of us to sit up and pay more attention to this issue.

  19. Jim J. McCrea says:

    Greed is based in something metaphysical within the human person.

    In the human soul is a God sized vacuum that only God can fulfill.

    Because of blindness, due to original sin, we try to fill it with more and more material things of a more and more delectable quality (the same goes with seeking unlimited sex or power) – because the void is infinite, that process can go on without limit without ever fulfilling us.

    If we come to union with God, that will cure us of the vice of greed and give us the knowledge and feeling that we have reached the ultimate goal of life.

  20. Nate says:

    The key point you make is that consumerism has destroyed our culture. People routinely murder their unborn children because it will cut into their consumption. Many don’t save for their retirement or for a rainy day fund but will buy a luxury car or eat out every night. Most everyone is living beyond their means and so is the government. We can’t get back on the path to forming a Christian society until the idol of consumerism is smashed.

  21. Jas says:

    “Greed is a deep drive of sin, one of the deadly sins, and it brings with it a kind of blindness and illusion that causes us to mistake mere wants for true needs.” Amen! And, conversely, true needs for mere wants.

    Living Charity is the antedote. Wonderful piece. God bless

  22. Rick says:

    Thank you Msgr! Outstanding, thought provoking. It would be great to have a meditation on greed’s cousin, envy.

  23. Jen says:

    I’ve been praying and thinking a lot about this lately (never thought of it as greed until today). I’ve been praying for more money because we have six children, and are trying to stay out of debt. That being said, we have a lovely home, two running vehicles, food, clothes, and everything we need. The debt we have? Paying for home schooling, paying for doctors for two of our special needs children, paying for the remainder of our heating bill, and getting a bunch of trees cut down around our home that we’ve been putting off forever because we didn’t have the cash. We also have a gym membership, which I use four or five times a week, because I have a history of post partum depression…and exercise combats that (and free babysitting). So my prayers have not been answered for more money to pay off these debts, and I’ve grown frustrated. Because we don’t want debt. And I ask the Lord for more money to pay them, and I feel like He’s been saying, ‘You have enough’, and to trust Him. And the comment about the rainy day fund…that really spoke to me. Because as much as it’s good to have, how much do I trust my Father? He has NEVER left us desolate…no matter how bad it got. I guess I need to re-evaluate….am I greedy?

  24. Robertlifelongcatholic says:

    I am tested daily about whether I am greedy, I don”t need to be lectured about this subject. My family. my job, my working associates, my friends, my Church, my government, medical providers all challenge me on a daily basis not to mention God Himself as to whether I am greedy. God knows if I had the money and resources to meet the demands on me daily, I would gladly give but as it is, I have but one life to give without being lectured as to if I am greedy or how I should be wanting less and giving more of what I don’t possess. Even Christ did’t spend much time lecturing the crowds on greed. I have given up anything necessary to help others. I no longer own my own home and could not buy a house now if I wanted nor do I care because I gave to help others. Yeah, there are greedy people. Thank God am not one of them. I don”t have time to think about nor do I care about pointing out who they are. I will leave that uo to others.

  25. Eileen says:

    After working for over 18 yrs. with the disabled in Liberia, I assure you most Americans do not know what POVERTY is. I have a non profit (www.africandisabilityfoundation.org ) and work with the handicapped in this West African country. I send out four letters of appeal a year and if I get responses from 12%, I consider it a true blessing from God. You see those we work with went through a 14 yr. civil war, have no running water, no electricity, no vaccination programs, no food (unless we deliver a little every month) and most of them sleep on the ground in the dirt with no roof over their heads or a leaky tin one if any.. There are approx. 200 Drs. for 3 1/2 million people and no hospital to see anyone in an emergency. Last night I received a text, one child is having uncontrollable seizures and no one will see him until Monday (maybe).Others are dying from malaria and typhoid and they are just buried in a hole (no casket and no mass or service.) One group runs a school for the “poor”, and they have no food for themselves unless we provide it, yet they feel they must help their brothers and sisters and they are sooo grateful. They take in the homeless children who wander aimlessly looking for parents and siblings who were killed in the war and they provide Love and Compassion for each other. Until we see them, we just don’t get it. Americans always have someone to turn to–soup kitchen, church, person on the street. In Liberia there is no one, for they are considered “witched” for being disabled. I am asked if they are black and why they have so many children? We just don’t get it!! Have you ever run out of soap or perhaps toilet paper?? They don’t even have it and yet they are grateful for the little we can do for them. There is no Greed in this country–only gratitude that they are alive. And now Ebola!! God have Mercy on your Least.

  26. [...] Greed: A Brief Meditation on One of the More Underreported SinsOne of the more underreported sins is greed. Too easily do we conclude that greed is always about “that other person over there,” who appears to have a little more than I do. Yes, that rich guy over there, the one who earns a dollar more per hour than I do; he is greedy, but I’m not.…more [...]

  27. Artfldgr says:

    One cant tell greed witout first determining need.

    if god rewarded moses, and he became wealthy, shouold the populace and government take his god given reward away from him as humans determine greed, not god?

    however if we return to what greed meant from the latin, not what erronous way people use it today.
    then a human CAN tell if they are being greedy by what ideas they entertain about what it is they want!!!

    Greed, also known as avarice, cupidity or covetousness, is the inordinate desire to possess wealth, goods, or objects of abstract value with the intention to keep it for one’s self, far beyond the dictates of basic survival and comfort

    didnt moses have wealthy far in excess of survival and comfort? there are several passages that said that moses beame VERY VERY wealthy… now one cant resolve the issue in todays view, as todays view has any money beyond what you need to live and be comfortable with, is greed.

    but then i turn you towards things in history. like the hyperinflation of germany (or others)
    what on monday was a pile that was regarded as greed as it exceeded what one needed for comfort
    became not enough the next day, as it was then worthless, and so starvation became ok

    now… to the people and the author of this, that person was greedy on monday, but had they come friday, they would see they were poor and deserved more..

    they seek to out judge the judgem,ent of god who rewards and has a plan… that plan may include making moses wealthy, to give him the resources needed… but a socialists who regard man as the ultimate arbiter woudl have stripped moses of his wealth and gave it away before he could have accomplished what came from it.

    who are you or i to say that gods reward is unjust?
    in fact, the idea itself is a form of greed. making the point of this an offense to the point.
    after all, the porson forcing human judgment and action certainly does not believe god can reward a person
    nor that if god does, does the person desrve to hold onto it!!! according to the definition of it, they are seeking to hide their covetousness and judgmentalism by pretending to be more moral than god… who may grant wealth for his purpose.

    anything else undoes the parable of the talents…

    now man has deemed the unworthy servant as the best and the worthy one as the one with greed

    what about the master (god) who wanted more wealth to come from what was granted not less?

    sadly, its not for man to decide greed…
    any more than it is for man to second guess gods plan that may require it.
    any person desired to take the argument and make a case, is arguing against gods wishes good or bad
    for its god who decides, whether the wealth was needed or not.

    St. Katharine Drexel?

    The Vatican cited fourfold aspects of Drexel’s legacy:

    a love of the Eucharist and perspective on the unity of all peoples;
    courage and initiative in addressing social inequality among minorities – one hundred years before such concern aroused public interest in the United States;
    her belief in quality education for all and efforts to achieve it;
    and selfless service, including the donation of her inheritance, for the victims of injustice

    Her family owned a considerable fortune, and her uncle Anthony Joseph Drexel was the founder of Drexel University in Philadelphia

    if it wqasnt for this money, what would she have met the fourth point and become a saint?
    if it wasnt for the prior generations earnings and leasving it to her, did she have this.

    i waoudl say that many woudl think drexel was greedy..
    but to take his wealth, would have resulted in the lack of a saint..

    Because their father’s charitable donations totaled about $1.5 million, the sisters shared the income produced by $14 million—about $1,000 a day for each woman. In current dollars, the estate would be worth about $400 million

    how are we to call them greedy? we dont know what happens later…

    the money that andrew carnegie made, was used to make libraries.
    how many people learned about god in a library? one? a hundred?
    would the fortunes of god fearing men been made without the library being free and tghere for them?

    ah, but carnegie is a hated wealthy man…

    did anyone here know how many organs he donated to the churches so that they would enjoy god ?
    http://www.esteyorgan.com/CarnegieD.JPG

    Before many organs had been provided by Mr. Carnegie, it appeared necessary to standardize organ gifts. One effective means was the adoption of a rule to pay but half the cost of the organ, leaving the congregation to raise the other half. Standardization tentatively begun became practicable as data accumulated, and it was less difficult to arrive at a reasonable price to pay for a musical instrument for a church of a given size.

    Applications received from churches for the purchase of musical instruments numbered as high as three thousand in one year, from all the English-speaking world. From churches in the United States and Canada alone, they numbered as high as 2250 in a year. During the last twenty years approximately 40,000 applications from churches for the purchase of musical instruments have been received and dealt with by Mr. Carnegie and Carnegie Corporation of New York.

    but i bet before knowing this, many here would say he had too much.
    but withotu that, how could he bring organ music to thousands of churches?

    sad people who think they know beter than god, and wont let his plans play out..

    too bad the socialists playing god has people going against god and thinking they are pious.
    but when has god wanted his children to live in filth, and misery?

    anyone here mountain climb? the wealthy are the ones who belay others.

    Belaying refers to a variety of techniques climbers use to exert friction on a climbing rope so that a falling climber does not fall very far

    today i passed a wall at work
    the wall had the names of over a hundred very wealthy people?
    why was that wall there?
    well, i work at the jews hospital.. mount sinai.
    and without that money, the jews would not have gotten medical care
    and the world would nto have gotten the medical advances

    fools always konw more than god, and are so erudite at showing it

  28. Artfldgr says:

    Others are dying from malaria and typhoid and they are just buried in a hole (no casket and no mass or service.) One group runs a school for the “poor”, and they have no food for themselves unless we provide it, yet they feel they must help their brothers and sisters and they are sooo grateful.

    and do you realize they are starving because you help them?

    SPIEGEL Interview with African Economics Expert: “For God’s Sake, Please Stop the Aid!”
    The Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati, 35, says that aid to Africa does more harm than good.

    and he is right.
    after all, if your a farmer i the area where you are, and you grow food, and you take it to market, and tehre are wealthy do gooders there giving out food, how much can you get for yours? a penny? nothing?

    you see… by giving out free food, you destroy the market for food, you prevent them from growing food.
    after all, who wants to grow food to truck to market so that some western person can dump food on their economy for nothing and destory it.

    you realize that in our country, the one that supplies the food, its illegal for another to come in and dump product in the market for less than it costs, so they dont collapse the economica area and put the companies out of business…

    but that is just fine for the people who want to feel good helping these people suffer more.
    they wont EVER have an ecoinomy thanks to the dumped goods.

    what about clothing?
    well, we dunmp our clothing there too… they wear some, others they try to sell back to europe for cash
    but ultimately… you want to start a mill and have them weave cloth and make clothing? why?: their competition is a wealthy woman dumping product and killing them, while feeling good about it.

    how about the fact hat such peopple lied and trumped up the idea that DDT kills animals, and right at the moment it could haveeraidcatd the malaria … it was nice we got reid of those deseases here, then stopped before getting rid of them there. eh?

    and what about blood diamonds? well, all that they did with that was secure the monopoly of debeers. now a diamond miner digging in the dirt has to sell his diamonds to debeers who can ligitimize them… all around the world, they cant get market price for goods, and they ar foced to sell to the cartels rather than get around them, thanks to us fixingf that for them too.

    and on it goes.
    want to know why africa is in a mess? wealthy do gooders helping russia keep the resources off the markt so that their resources are sold for mo0re… ever look at the labels on the boxes holding military equipment?

    though if you think about it… easier to terrorize people with free weaponry to get food and status than it is to be a farmer in market that gives away free food, and a textile maker in a market of free cloth, and so on

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