Sunday, October 08, 2006
There are Riches, and Then There's Money.
Simply put, I'm wondering if keeping a substantial savings account, with no particular purpose in mind, might be considered harmful as it lead one to rely more on their own power of providing than on God's providence.
Jesus makes it quite clear in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew that this life is fleeting . Further, since this life is simply a preparation for the grand finale, we need to spend our resources on preparing for that, and not spending our time on the dress rehearsal.
It made me think about my savings account. Usually, the number is around zero-ish but despite that fact I've had some great opportunities including travel to 7 European countries and a few areas in the United States. I had stayed at home, and not taken any of those trips, its hard to figure out how much richer I'd be...
On a limited income, these trips certainly made me frugal. When I had to buy my own lunch in Rome during my college semester, most lunches consisted of leftover rolls from dinner the night before (which were from breakfast the morning before), peanut butter brought from the States, and fruit - again, from dinner the night before. On feast days or for a treat, we might purchase cheese and nutella from the local market. There was also a trip in Spain where we ate a roll and coffee for breakfast, skipped lunch, and found an inexpensive dinner. Again, we had bread and peanut butter in case there were any real emergencies.
Of course, I don't think its really a sin to have a savings account, especially if one is saving for their family, future family or future plans. Yet, Jesus does point out that there is a virtue in living as if we may be taken from this world at any moment, and we should spend our resources, time and talent in becoming holier and closer to Our Lord.
I do remember a certain pride as I came home from my semester in Rome with a credit card small balance, and one US dollar in my purse. I had spent three months in Rome, and visited Florence, Subiaco, Venice, Florence, Assisi, Orvieto, Pamplona, Avila, Toledo, Madrid and southwest Ireland. I was able to attend daily Mass at St. Peter's, attend the station churches during Lent and celebrated Easter Week with the Holy Father.
All in all, you might say that I'd be richer if I hadn't spent the semester in Rome - but you could only say that if you were counting richness in dollars.