The love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim 6:10)
The financial powers dictate austerity and social cuts in order to solve the debt crisis. With the cooperation of submissive governments, they punish everybody, except themselves, the ones to blame primarily.
Their guilt is that they do not guard against greed. They get carried away by the drive to enrich themselves at all cost. They are not like the conquistadores of the past, but they do subjugate and dehumanize.
They reduce human existence to possessing, appropriating things and people even. They suppose religion to be a means of gain (1 Tim. 6:5). They foster consumerism. They see to it that there is an unfettered selling and buying of everything, including the superfluous. Making sure that the fine prints of contracts are not gone over and disregarding full disclosure, they get one with uncertain resources hooked on a subprime mortgage or on a home equity loan that would ultimately leave him without home or hope. They care only about their profits, not about their employees or the jobless.
It is time to be wary and to expose the lies of the banks. Let us not believe their advertisements to the effect that happiness consists in being opulent, in enjoying the best comfort, in living it up, and that poverty means sadness.
Such propaganda is belied by Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem (insignificant yet provides bread for the hungry), in very poor and uncomfortable circumstances. There brilliance does not derive from Christmas lights or trees. Neither is joy associated with beautifully wrapped gifts. There the angels and shepherds give God glory and praise, and Mary, without any sadness, peacefully ponders.
With our eyes fixed on the Nativity scene, we can be simple folks again whose straits are no impediment to celebrating gratefully even the smallest of blessings. We shall keep the advice: “Let your life be free from love of money …, for he has said, ‘I will never forsake you or abandon you.’ Thus we may say with confidence: ‘The Lord is my helper ….’” We shall be like St. Vincent de Paul who, upon hearing the bursar say there was no money left, replied: “That is good news! Blessed be God! Now is the time to show we trust in his goodness” (Abelly 3, III, 13) . We will esteem divine teachings more precious than heaps of silver and gold (Ps. 119:72).
We Christians will live in accordance with Jesus’ teaching, “Though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions,” that there is no profit for us to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit ourselves (Lk. 12:15; 9:25). In the midst of the crisis, we will joyfully recover loving solidarity, which will impel us to share what we have with those whose needs are greater than ours, and to weep prayerfully, for example, with the inconsolable families in Newton, Connecticut. We will understand that jubilee and beauty belong to those persons who, just like Mary, go in haste over the hills to bring tidings of peace and joy (Ps. 52:7).
Wicked money seeks to plunge us into destruction (1 Tim. 6:9). Jesus, on the other hand, has plans of peace for us, of a future full of hope (cf. Jer. 29:11). And he invites us to the manger to give us food and a pledge of future glory, and to challenge us each time to store treasures, through good works, for the true life (1 Tim. 6:19) and “to always be,” as Paul VI exhorted the Mexican people, “in the front line in all efforts to attain progress, and in all the initiatives for improving the situation of those who suffer want.”