The ability to accumulate wealth, fame and power is often referred to as materialism. When one has a great crave for anything other than God, it is materialism. As human beings, our needs are unlimited and insatiable. This is the reason man continues to possess a lot of things even when they are not needed. As God’s children, if we follow the Lord’s prayer which says “give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” ( Matthew 6:11-12 ), it will help us to live well without hurting ourselves or any one. Materialism is when we begin to possess a lot of things that we may not need because it is not the main reason of our existence. When we possess too much, it may even make us lose sight of God. Materialism is a form of distraction whereby people run after vain things and also seek false glory. It never ends because it keeps revolving. When one trend or fashion is fading away another one will be coming in. Those who crave for material things will know no peace because new innovations will never stop.
Castles built on material things will surely collapse because they have no solid foundation. Foundation is the source of a man, it tells us where a particular person is coming from, any foundation that is not built on Christ will easily perish due to the fact that he has nothing to hold onto. Jesus is the solid rock where every solid foundation is connected and any foundation that has no link with Jesus cannot survive because it has no root.
Materialism is like vapour that you see for a split second and then it immediately disappears; it lacks substance. Those who befriend material things die of loneliness; it has no ability to sustain anything. When we run after material things we continue to feel the pain of want and dissatisfaction due to the fact that it is so transient and has no capacity to wait for anyone. Those who run after it are slaves and have no liberty because they are indebted to it. It makes its followers restless, needy, pained and uneasy. It has the power to grow a lot of vices in the heart of men because if one is craving for a particular thing he does not mind what is blocking him. He would do everything to remove every obstacle on his way to get what he wants.
Furthermore, materialism is a serious vice that can tear families apart, destroy friendships and also lead to sin. When one is so attached to worldly things he would not be able to attach himself to God. Anyone who is attached to this world would find it difficult to be friends with God because he cannot “serve both God and wealth”, (Matthew 6:24). The main reason why we were created is to know God, love him and serve him in this world and to be happy with him forever in the next (CCC N0 2). From the above answer from the catechism of the Catholic Church we can see that we are beautifully and wonderfully made for a purpose which is of knowing and serving God in this world and also to continue this relationship in heaven. Anything outside this is wrong. Materialism is a serious vice that we should not give space in our hearts because it is capable of dividing and tearing the family apart. Its ability of division is seen in the story of Abraham and Lot, in Genesis 13:2. 5-18. we saw that Lots and Abraham who were brothers, and have lived together as one big family. When their herds increased by thousands, it brought strife between their cattle and herdsmen. A family of peace became a war zone all because of materialism. They had no other choice than to separate from one another so that peace would reign. Materialism is all about strife, war, separation and class. As a family, once there is disagreement, it means there is no progress all because any household divided against itself cannot stand. Materialism talks about class, often times it is only the rich that you see boast of their wealth due to the fact that it is where their treasure lies. The situation of class discrimination is a serious problem in our society today. This came into play between Sarah and her slave girl Haggi. When Sarah saw that her son was playing with Haggi’s son, she felt bad and she said “cast out this slave woman with her son for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac” (Gen 21:10). The Bible says it was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. Many a times those who are helpless in our society are very weak and have no one to speak for them. Later we were told that God listened to Haggi and her son and blessed them. The issue of materialism is tearing the world apart, whereby the poor are completely silent and the rich are parading themselves every days. “Let the poor breath” so that they can also contribute their own quota to the development of the economy. Pope John Paul II said that no one is too poor that he has nothing to give and no one is too rich that will not receive from others. The rich never want to have anything with the poor and also the poor on the other hand are angry with the rich seeing them as those who are depriving them of their rightful possession and privileges. Separation is not a good thing because it brings a serious setback to any society.
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In our society today, materialism has eaten so deep that most people have lost a sense of decency and everybody wants to follow what is trending. The Bible says seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and every other thing will be added. (Matthew 6:33). From this scriptural passage what is required of us is to focus on what really matters to us which is the kingdom where we are going to spend our eternity. This world is not our home, our home is in heaven. Materialism could be anything that is capable of attracting a man and making him lose focus or attention. Materialism is of different types and it cuts across various aspects of the society. Wealth, power and fame never satisfy a man. For instance, when a person is craving for wealth he will do whatever it takes to accumulate more all because he is not satisfied. Embezzlement of public fund is as a result of materialism. Continuous love of money is the root of all evil. Many people have lost their lives because they are in search of wealth. Worst still those who are looking for fame have also fallen victim of this vice. People do a lot of things to make sure they are wealthy because they do not want to suffer and so making quick money is the order of the day. The principle of the dignity in labour is no longer what the society is interested in, what is in vogue now is fame and power. How many mansions do you have? Who are your committee of friends? Nobody is asking “what do you do for a living?”. What the society is concerned about is how rich you are and “what can you boast of?” Who do you know in government? Once you are rich you can do and undo. There is lots of misuse of power. Because you are well connected, the next thing is to begin to misbehave and pave way for self-gratification. Materialism is seriously driving the world crazy because everybody wants to feel big so nobody cares about who is doing what and how they are doing it.
Materialism and vanity are interwoven and they will both end in emptiness and pains. Fake things never last because they cannot withstand the test of time. Those who crave for things other than God end in regret. Craving for fame, power and wealth is always a futile effort because it has no gain. Let us try and work for the things that will last and also glorify God.
Sr Margret Ogbebor SSMA is a Catholic Nun, working in the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto. She is the Head Teacher of St Martin de Porres Nursery and Primary School Katsina. [email protected]