Before climbing david’s throne, Solomon had to annihilate his older brother. He began, then, his reign wrapped in the zozobra and wondering if he would be able to rule like his father. One night he dreamed that he was in prayer and that he asked the Most High, not riches or power, but wisdom to govern his people. God gave him this answer: “Because I have asked for that and not a long life, nor riches, nor the life of your enemies, but intelligence to rule with success, I will give you what you have asked for: a wise and wise mind, as there was not before nor will there be after you, and I will also give you what you have not asked for: riches and fame greater than those of any king…” (1Re 2, 11-14).
Chapter five of the first Book of Kings describes the fulfillment of such promises: Solomon’s wealth became incalculable, and his wisdom transcended the borders of his kingdom. He is credited with promoting science and the arts in his people, and promoting the compilations of popular wisdom contained in sayings, proverbs, riddles, and judgments. One of these “pills of wisdom” is this prayer: “Do not give me wealth or poverty, grant me only the necessary bread; not that, very full, he denies you, saying, ‘Who is the Lord?’ And let it not happen that, because of much need, I steal and offend the name of my God” (Prov 30:8-9).
Money is a means, not an end
From ancient times, men abandoned the primitive practice of bartering or exchanging goods (for example: I give you three handfuls of wheat and you give me a pumpkin), to use metal wheels to which a value was assigned. That’s how coins came up. Later the paper currency (i.e. banknotes) was invented, with an even more conventional value, but backed by the treasury of the country itself. The economic power of nations is reflected in the value of the money its people manage. With financial development in the world, economic values are no longer limited to banknotes: today stocks, stock exchange operations, price allocation to consumer products, monopolies, conditioning treaties for the weakest peoples, etc. are handled. Such policies pretend to ignore that money should be a fair means of legitimate progress and not an end. That results in a run-up race to make the maximum profits. Wealth becomes an absolute goal, and to obtain it, ethics are distorted, justice is trampled on and detestable resources such as abuse, hoarding, deception and even crime are used. In one of his 2016 reflections, Pope Francis made a public denunciation of the money’s idolaters, which, in order to increase their capital, provoke wars to sell weapons, circulate garbage in markets, promote consumerism and practice human trafficking.
The desire for wealth – money – is not only noticed in ambitious corporations or countries. It is an unhealthy aspiration that occurs in many individuals who do not see money as a means to the just personal well-being and their family, and take it as the raison d’eer of existence itself. These individuals live to have and long to always have more. And it happens that they fall into the category of wasteful or become greedy; are the two extremes at which a greedy person can see himself. The worst condition is that of the greedy, for they do not even enjoy how much they have; they spend their time counting the accumulated and always live in fear of being robbed. Jesus Christ counsels: “Don’t gather treasures and reserves here on earth, where moth and rust havoc, and where thieves pierce the wall and steal. Gather treasures and reserves in Heaven, where there is no moth or rust to do havoc, and where there are no thieves who break the wall and steal” (Mt 6:19-20).
Greed has been reproached in all cultures; the greedy is punished by his own ambition.
This is what Greek mythology tells us: Midas, king of Frigia, gained from the god Dionysus the power to transform everything he touched into gold. At first, Midas was mad with contentment playing whatever he wanted it to turn golden; but the time came when she was hungry and could not satiate her, because any food or fruit she touched turned to gold. Desperate, he begged Dionysus to withdraw that terrible power.
The two sides of money
Money can meet vital needs, but it can also, by excess or bad tendency of the subject, generate false needs and lead to consumerism and waste.
Lack of money, on the other hand, is a source of distress and can induce theft or moral vilification in order to increase one’s income.
Money is neither good nor bad in itself. It all depends on how it is purchased and how it is used.
Knowing how to win, know how to spend, know how to give
Since money is an essential means of a dignified personal and family life, it matters a lot to know how to earn. This requires work, discipline, sacrifice. It’s a bad way to think of “easy money,” “quick wealth,” “effortless well-being.” Earning bread with the sweat of one’s forehead dignifies and gives security.
It’s sad when someone wants to get a decent job and can’t find it. In such a case – not always solveable, unfortunately – it is worth a lot of humility and creativity: to be able to accept honest work, even if it is humble, and to put on the spot one’s creativity to seek alternatives, ingenious ways of having a better source of income.
Also to spend the money itself you need a correct orientation and good habits, such as getting a monthly or weekly budget, foreseeing with time expenses that will be presented, giving up in advance what is above the budget itself, etc.
It is almost a law of life to go first through a stage where it depends entirely on others, and gradually acquire the self-sufficiency of those who provide at their own expenses, to finally reach the fullness of life with the ability to sustain themselves and to contribute to the well-being of others.
Those who are constant at work, orderly in their economy, foresighted in terms of future expenses, are usually a generous person, able to give some help to those who need it most. Ω