Wednesday, 24 February 2021

24 February, Antonio, Cardinal Bacci: Meditations For Each Day

Avarice and Ambition

1. The unscrupulous businessman and the careerist have an ugly attitude to life. The former is concerned only with securing the highest possible profits by any means whatever, licit or illicit. The accumulation of money and wealth is like a fever which torments and brutalises the mind and heart. It extinguishes all noble human sentiment; moreover, it destroys religion.

Careerism is a similar kind of viciousness. The careerist is driven by a mad desire to carve out a career for himself at all costs, even if he has to make use of lies, adulation, and bribery in the pursuit of his ambition. His ambition is to win glory and esteem and to hold the highest and most honourable positions, which naturally command the best salaries as well.

The Gospel is severe in its warning to these two classes of people. “What does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul?” (Mt. 16:25) “Seek the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be given you besides.” (Mt. 6:33; Lk. 12:31)

2. Although the Gospel stresses so much the necessity of being detached from the things of the world and of striving after the things of Heaven, it is a sad fact that from the early days of the Church up to the present time greed for money and desire for honour have always been there to do great harm to the faithful. In his first letter St. Peter exhorted priests to guide and look after their flocks “not for the sake of base gain, but eagerly; nor yet as lording it over your charges, but becoming from the heart a pattern to the flock.” (I Peter 5:3) He went on to urge the faithful to be humble, obedient and detached from the desires of the world. He told them to entrust their cares to God, their protector. Let us examine how well we follow this counsel and resolve to correct any deficiencies in our behaviour.

3. What is our attitude in regard to these matters? We are not forbidden, naturally, to look after our own affairs and our work. In fact, it is our duty to do so to whatever degree is demanded by the circumstances in which we live. Similarly, it is not forbidden to try and better our social position. All this must be done, however, with a due sense of proportion and by the proper means. The first concern in our life should be the service of God. This is what we were created for; this is what we must wholeheartedly aim at doing. Only in this way can we secure peace of mind and attain eternal salvation. Everything else must be secondary to our ultimate purpose in life. Otherwise God would be in a position inferior to ourselves, and this would be equivalent to robbing for ourselves the honour and glory due to our Creator and Redeemer. Think earnestly about this truth.

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