25 Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 21, 2019
It was recently reported that the New York Attorney General’s office is conducting an investigation into the financial holdings of a family which owns a pharmaceutical company that manufactures what has proven to be a highly addictive “painkiller.” Evidence of the transfer of AT LEAST $1 billion in wire transfers to Swiss banks aroused suspicion of efforts to conceal assets in anticipation of an avalanche of litigation arising out of the opioid crisis.
Although our justice system promotes a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, it certainly would be a surprise if these unimaginably wealthy people, realizing that they were vulnerable, had not taken steps to ensure they did not lose all that they had gained under the guise of controlling people’s pain.
This is just one example of the addictive power of wealth. The news as well as the court system is full of other examples.
Much like “opioids,” money helps control pain. Money enables us to relieve hunger and protect ourselves from the elements with good clothes and sturdy shelter. Like “painkillers,” money dulls our worries and concerns about our future and serves to enhance our moods. But, for many, the benefits of wealth are quickly outweighed by the risks.
Wealth tends to be addictive. It takes control over our senses and values and stimulates the appetite to acquire more…and more…and more…until the servant become the master…or the monster. And “the monster” is particularly ferocious when threatened. People take remarkable measures to protect their wealth…be it transferring funds to offshore accounts or Swiss banks, or, like the unfaithful steward in the Gospel, by “cooking the books.”
The Old Testament speaks frequently to the issue, with Amos, the Prophet of social justice (refer to today’s First Reading) being the most forceful voice, warning against the all too human tendency toward greed.
But the good news is there is a cure. And there is no need to check into an expensive rehab facility to become healthy. A dose of Christian charity can help to tame “the monster” to be repeated whenever the symptoms return.