REFLECTION: Poverty revisited PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 23 July 2011 14:05

Cardinal Sin was reported to have said that if he was given money by Satan, he would accept it and use it for charity. Many people are reacting to that view, saying that this position is unconscionable, since it is like following the immoral doctrine that the end justifies the means.

With all this brouhaha of the so-called “Pajero bishops,” a pure invention of PCSO chair Margie Juico (OMG, what was she thinking?), this statement of Cardinal Sin is understandably retrieved by those who still buy the line of the PCSO official despite its almost self-evident falsehood and malice.

What’s becoming clear is that there is still a big number of people, some of them prominent, who are sick with respect to their life of faith and in the Church, and are in fact nursing a certain dislike, if not, hatred and hostility toward Church people.

They almost automatically think badly of churchmen, watching them with eagle eyes, and are happy when they notice or imagine some lapses on the part of bishops and priests. They are always ready for a strike.

Back to the statement of Cardinal Sin, may he rest in peace, I think the question to ask is, “What would we do with the money of Satan?” Would we just burn it or bury it, or allow it to stay idle and rot? Would it not be more common-sensical to use it for a good purpose?

Money is not Satan himself. It has its own existence, independently of Satan. We have to clarify this, because many people are misquoting a bible passage about money being the root of all evils.

I checked my Bible, and I found the quotation which reads: “For the desire of money is the root of all evils, which some coveting have erred from the faith, and have entangled themselves in many sorrows.” (1 Tim 6,10)

So it’s not money itself that is the root of all evils. It is the desire, the evil, coveting desire for money that is the culprit. Many people have a “colorum” grasp of the gospel and with that they start to pontificate. Hopefully in time, they will realize they have been victimized by their own ignorance or error.

So if Cardinal Sin or any bishop would receive money from Satan, they have to make sure that they use it properly. Obviously, it would be a different story if Satan would make some immoral conditions, or some unacceptable strings attached.

Or if the money involved would be in such amount and condition that using it would cause some evil effects, as in the case of money laundering. In these instances, I think, the donation should be rejected, unless the necessary changes of the evil conditions are made.

Of course, certain transactions may have to be done very discreetly, because not all people have the same perception and understanding of these transactions. There are those who are “weak” and can get easily scandalized even by a very good transaction. So, discretion is needed. This is not cheating. It is discretion.
With all this furor about the “Pajero bishops,” it might be good to revisit the spirit of poverty everyone, prince or pauper, is asked to live and develop. Poverty is a matter of the heart, when it is detached from material things to keep itself whole and entire for God and for others.

Poverty therefore is not so much a matter of how much one has. It is more how one uses his money and the material things for love of God and for love and service of others.

To exaggerate a little, one can be a billionaire and live Christian poverty well because he uses his money for God and for the others, or can be a dirt-poor beggar and yet not live poverty well because he is selfish. This is possible.

Bishops and priests should lead the way in showing the true face of Christian poverty, which does not mean they, we, should be dirty, smelly and miserable. Everyone is entitled to certain level of wellbeing to keep our Christian dignity intact and our effectiveness working.

I was amused once when I visited a young priest who was assigned to a very poor parish made up mostly of farmers. When I asked him how much was his average Sunday Mass collection, he told me he would usually receive P15 to P20. I could not help but laugh. He survives because a rich benefactor takes care of all his needs.
Still I reminded him to live poverty well. --FR. ROY CIMAGALA