If you go back in the days of your childhood, I am sure you can think of a gift that you received that made you so happy and so full of life! Maybe it was a doll, a toy train, a book that you really wanted to read. Perhaps it was a person in your life. Maybe it was that newborn baby that you and your husband have been praying to have for a long time. Your husband, wife, children, family are gifts that you have received in your life and I know are very important to you. Perhaps you have received the gift of Faith, friendship, laughter. How do we show gratitude for all that we have received?
God gave everything when He gave His Son Jesus. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that all who believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. Jesus is the greatest gift that we can ever receive. Jesus in the Eucharist is the greatest gift that we receive today!
You are a gift! God created you out of love! He chose you…from all eternity to be His entirely! He wanted you to have life…He saw you in His plan…and He made you very good. You are an important piece in this life. God made you as you are for a reason…your life is a gift! YOU are a gift!
Because of our wounded state, we forget “gift.” We sense that there is a void in our heart…an empty space. We feel the need to have many things, even at times things that are not ours to have, because things make us happy…but only for a time. Too much of a good thing (money, food, pleasure, social media) is not always a good thing, because it hinders us from seeing everything as a gift and it hinders us from loving the God who has made this world. For example, ice cream is good…but if I want more and more and more ice cream all at once, I am going to get sick and need to go to the hospital! Having too much of something hinders us from seeing and loving the Giver of every good gift, God Himself. Sometimes we want things that are not ours to have, (covetousness) in order to satisfy our own selfish desires. This we can call avarice (greed/covetousness).
Don’t get me wrong! It is good to want things! I sincerely believe when we have desires, God is just reminding us of our great desire for heaven! The problem comes when we want things in a disordered way, when we want what we want for selfish reasons (example: so that we look good in the eyes of others). The problem also comes with what we desire…sometimes the things we desire are not ours to have. An attitude of greed says, “It’s all mine!,” when in reality whatever good we have received comes from God and belongs to God. Also, the problem comes when we are not happy and thankful for what God has given to us.
Have you ever wanted something so bad that you would do anything to get it? Did you get it? Did it make you a better person? Did you grow closer to the Lord in getting that thing?
What are you wanting right now? Do you know, inside of yourself that getting what you want right now is good for you?
Have I ever thanked God for what I have been given?
The interesting thing is that we can oftentimes go through avarice when it comes to spiritual things. St. John of the Cross points out that some people can never get enough of hearing spiritual talks, seeking advice, reading books and as a result are very unhappy if they do not find consolation in these things. (The Fulfillment of all Desire: Ralph Martin 339). Wanting to possess spiritual things, simply because they are attractive, beautiful and fashionable to the eyes, does not help in gaining poverty of spirit. The question is, are they helping us grow in our relationship with God…or are they just pleasing to our senses? For example, sometimes we get all caught up about possessing spiritual objects such as rosaries, and medals only because they are attractive and pleasing to the eyes. St. John of the Cross says it himself that people weigh themselves down with over decorated images, and rosaries….preferring one cross to another because of elaborateness. In the case of spiritual talks, or seeking advice, sometimes individuals will find themselves emotionally lifted up…and they want that all the time…the more they go to, the more they will have this emotional happiness, and it is an escape from facing the Crosses that are necessary for our sanctification. St. John of the Cross makes the point that true devotedness comes from the heart. However, it is very important to understand that we should want things to be beautiful in order to bring glory to God. We should want to attend conferences and spiritual talks that lift our minds to God. That is good! However avarice takes it to a whole different level because there are times when we use things in order to fill a void in our heart! Perhaps, we are trying to fill the emptiness that is inside with external things, because it is an escape to what is really going on in the inside. St. John discourages individuals from having “possessiveness.” St. John of the Cross explains that possessiveness only brings about loss in the end. There is a difference between possessiveness and freedom. Possessiveness says, “Mine!” Freedom says, “Thank you!” The Scripture says, “Anything I do not possess before God, I have lost.” (Romans 4:2). If we have things, but do not wish to give God glory, then we are lost. Anyone or anything who is outside the presence of God is lost.
What is the cure of this avarice? Simply, learning to be grateful for the gifts we have received and placing our eyes on Christ. Be grateful for what has been given whether it is a retreat talk, a good book, a nice rosary. Perhaps try sharing what you have received with a friend. Look at how these spiritual things can help us grow in our relationship with God, to true love of God. Place your eyes on Christ and everything will become rightly ordered! I once heard a very good priest say, “how long do we spend asking God for things…do we spend the same amount of time thanking God for what He has given and granted to us?”