Temptations are a part of life. A seminary professor in the Kyeongyang magazine introduces us to fetishism: excessive attention or attachment to some object, and for him this makes you a slave of that object. He very astutely uses the word slave in Korean which is made up of two syllables 'No' and 'Yeh' (noyeh). A slave, according to the professor, is one who when he should say no says yes.
In this case, you are acknowledging the control over
oneself of something outside, external to oneself, which makes you a
slave. He mentions three reasons for the slavery: attachment to material goods,
sexuality and greed and the antidotes are the evangelical counsels:
poverty, chastity and obedience. God is the ultimate meaning of the
counsels. According to the columnist, the strongest of these is our
attraction to the material, and when this is the object of our worship, it becomes our
When Israel left Egypt and were in the
desert, they were fed up with the manna they were receiving daily, and
wanted to return to slavery and a decent meal. They also wanted something that was more
material to express their worship, and made the image of a calf: another throwback to what they possessed when slaves in
We have evolved in our day. We camouflage our
thinking: living well is another way of saying we have money.
Excessive accumulation of material goods is something that we envy and
consuming becomes a virtue. Instead of paying attention to the words of
Jesus and the apostles we go to the early years of the Scripture where
we see the blessings of material goods and possessions, and
forget that "Jesus had no place to lay his head."
tithing is often considered a way of getting more blessings instead of a
way of sharing and becomes an investment in future blessings. We see
this method of thinking in the story of St. Nicholas in his sharing, and
St.Nicholas (Santa Claus) becomes an idol to promote consumption.
"One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money,
since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies.
The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it
originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the
human person! We have created new idols" #55 of Pope Francis in Joy of the Gospel.
the beginning of Christianity, there has been no time where wealth has
been exalted like the present. We have become slaves of money. We forget persons are what are important, and that politics, economy, society and culture all exist in our
environment. Doing harm to the environment is not benefiting us in the long run and will come back to harm us in the future. Creation is God's gift to us, and we need to care for it. When material goods do harm to our environment we need to learn how to say "No" when a "No" is our only answer if we want to be free and caretakers of creation.