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Thursday, August 8, 2013

For The Love Of Money

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive..." (2 Timothy 3: 1-5)

As the ninth child in a brood of ten, being raised in an over- populated home has never been easy. First things first - food. Though it was not much of a dire issue, it never came by easily. Both my parents had to toil beyond their means so that each one gets to have a proper meal. Sending us to school and  finish our elementary is already a bounty, to say the least.

At school, I envy my seatmate named Garry for his daily "baon" of Ovaltine powder neatly wrapped in green cellophane. I thought that really tastes good as it smells good. He would sniff at it and teasingly parade on our faces as he stuffs his mouth. I would look at my classmates' glossy notebooks with 'That's Entertainment' stars for their cover while mine a hand-made by my mother salvaged from some unused pages from  previous year. Ah, those were fine memories that bring  smiles to me nonetheless.

A lot of people have gone through so much in their lives. Poverty, poor health, oppression, getting marginalized and the list goes on. I have seen on TV people who have won lotteries and became instant millionaires. They tell their stories of wastefulness as soon as they get rich, how they satisfied themselves with all the things they lacked and even going the extremes till they see themselves going down the drain with no hope.

There was also this one episode sometime ago in a GMA public affairs program, an old woman in Leyte in her early seventies who was left to care for her three grandchildren whose mother ventured to work in Manila and not to be heard again after a few years. Their decrepit house had no lights save for the generous night sky that lights up when it's full moon. Needless to say, it's good when it's not raining. The old woman gathers firewood and sells them in exchange for a meal - if it is fittingly so. Understandably, she would forgo her share for her grandchildren's sake. I can feel every tear she shed, the calluses in her bare feet stalked by the camera adds up to the agony of every viewer for her frail and bone-encased body. How much more  pain she should endure daily?

Sometimes when we're not confronted with this kind of reality, we seem to have lost touch with what is happening around us especially when we are literally swimming in the comforts of our achievements. Then very basic questions in life come to mind. With so much poverty around us, still a lot of rich people have that insatiable cravings for more riches even to the point of robbing others, even a whole nation. Look at some politicians in the Philippines and you will see greed personified. And it doesn't stop there. Truth is, these things don't bother us a bit as long as we too are unhindered in our own quest to store up more wealth for ourselves.

The internet and social media in particular has been abuzz recently with the corruption issue involving the Napoles family who allegedly channeled billions of pesos into their own pockets in connivance with some supposedly respectable Philippine politicians. And we are talking here of billions stolen from the Filipino people by these privileged few. It's not for me to talk about details but the flaunting of wealth by the daughter of the Napoles matriarch is vomit-inducing you wouldn't believe all the while there already existed an heir to the so-called the greediest woman in history. And your guess is as good as mine.

Though mostly got the shock of their lives for such a brazen display of extravagance at the expense of  people's money, I'm not a bit surprised. I'm not talking in a perspective of a citizen who helps keep the local economy afloat but as a mortal being who believes everything in this world has an end. Even the world's richest men know that at some point they will let go of their riches upon death. However, it is only the belief that they can pay their way to heaven that keeps them greedy even more. It has been foretold in the Bible (2 Timothy 3) that in the last days people will be  lovers of themselves and lovers of money - such is a terrible time that we are witnessing right now. And this is where it gets even more scary.

Justice Is On The Way

The Bible says in Mark 8:36, "For what profit is it for a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?" In this world where everyone is busy storing up riches for himself even at the expense of another human being, kindness and generosity toward those in need sometimes get obsoleted when the love of oneself supersedes anything that is called humanity. I am a firm believer though that God is coming swiftly with His justice and righteousness for the nations. Not that we should gloat on a bunch of robbers and bandits for their imminent destiny but that there is still hope for them if they change their ways no matter how sinful they think they have been.

The Good News

God loves His creations. He loves us, yes, even though it's too good to be true that a righteous and just God can forgive even the worst sinners among us. Jesus laid His life for all of us sinners: robbers, murderers, idolaters, liars, homosexuals, adulterers, fornicators, everyone of us, even those plunderers. If we  repent of our sins and sincerely sorry for all the sins that we have done, then Jesus will forgive us of our sins and remember them no more. And He will most importantly give us eternal life. But who can escape God's wrath if we reject such a great salvation?

And The Bad News

It's just the opposite of the Good News. If we don't repent of our sins the wrath of God will follow us and He will come swiftly with His judgment that not even our gold and silver will be able to hide us and save us from His justice. That is the saddest news when people do not repent from their sins and refuse to acknowledge Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6) We might be struggling to find another way or some other ways imaginable, like donating to our church or giving alms to the poor or doing some good works just like what Oprah insists on her show because obviously she cannot accept that there is only One way. It's up to us people. We have been warned and lovingly told of the Gospel at some point in our lives. It is for us whether we accept or reject such a great gift of salvation. Sadly, many of us choose the path that we take. I hope it's not too late. We are happy to be alive today, but what about tomorrow? Do we know what tomorrow will bring forth?

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Silay City, Negros Occidental, The Philippines

Some of the photos above courtesy of Arnaldo Arnáiz Díaz

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