In this current climate of financial distress, many people find themselves worried to the point of despair, struggling to cope with the darkness that appears around them, unable to see beyond the ugliness of their situation, or simply worried to the point of preoccupation. There is no doubt that the economy is very bad. Yet, as Catholic Christians we are people of hope. That hope is not a saccharine-fake-feel-good thing. It is real. It is firm. Our ultimate hope is not found in the politicians whom we've elected nor in the comfort our bank accounts give us. Our true hope is found in Jesus and his abiding love, forgiveness, and salvation which he offers for us all. That’s our hope.
Moral Responsibility and the Loaves and Fishes
Recently, one of our wise and more senior members of our presbyterate wrote a reflection in in his parish's bulletin about how we could be individually responsible for the economic problem as well as the solution. Click this link to read the reflection of Monsignor Greg Moys on page two of his parish's bulletin. For those who have lost their jobs, we need to offer assistance. For those who have not been directly effected, the mentality of scarcity which results in hoarding is moral problem which may need re-evaluation.
The miracle of the loaves and fish may offer some help here. First of all, this event is recorded in all of the Gospel, something which most certainly speaks of its importance. But, some biblical scholars have offered an alternative interpretation of the event which shows another lens which begs a response. This alternative interpretation sees the initial problem of the shortage of food as due to selfish hoarding. The crowd had plenty amongst themselves, but the perception of scarcity made them hoard their food. Jesus' blessing over the known bread and fish broke the chains of sin in the hearts of the people. Their stony hearts were changed from selfish absorption to an openness to the concerns of others. Again, this is not a mainstream interpretation, but may offer some thoughts about what kind of sensibility we should have as Christians.
A scarcity mentality can darken our joy and blind us to the abundance that is before us. We need to break through the chains that captivate us in selfishness. Certainly, God is the first one whom we need to seek. In addition, we can do some spiritual and concrete things which will remind us of the joy which God wants us to have. Therefore, I would like to offer my list of 101 concrete ways to combat our culture of scarcity in which we now live. All these things, while seemingly small or even trivial, can be very spiritual and concrete actions that can help us from day to day. I am not endorsing any particular companies nor attempting to advertise any businesses, but simply referencing local ideas that may serve to help you discern how you may be able to accomplish some of these ideas. Maybe you can create your own 101 ideas and act on them.
101 Spiritual Acts in a Culture of Scarcity
3. Pray some more.
4. Read the Gospel of Mark
5. Vacuum the ﬂoor
6. Concentrate on paying off a debt (start with the smallest)
7. Clean the work bench in the garage
8. Take someone out for dinner
9. Get rid of clutter around a specific area
10. Turn off the evening news on television
Blessings in Christ,
Fr. William Holtzinger