Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

By most standards, our nation is rich

by Jerry Monks, for the Inland Register

(From the April 20, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)

Sometimes it’s difficult to find a silver lining in a murky cloud. Maybe it just isn’t there. Like the sign on the health food shop window that said, “Closed due to illness.” Or the announcement of the upcoming sermon topic that appeared in the church bulletin: “What is hell? Come early and listen to our choir practice.”

Is there a silver lining in the economic downturn our country has experienced during the last three years? How does our fate compare with that of poorer nations, such as Guatemala?

Regardless of the current situation, we are a rich country by most any standard. We have refrigerators and microwave ovens, hot showers, two or three bathrooms per house, and often as many cars or SUVs.

The families in our Spokane mission area in Guatemala have no refrigerators or other electric appliances. People there don’t even know how to drive cars, and some don’t even have an outdoor latrine, much less a bathroom with running water.

So who is better off? In a way, that depends on one’s perspective. Jesus told his disciples that it was more difficult for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to get through a tiny gate in a city wall – the “eye of the needle.” In essence, our material wealth can be a significant hindrance in our pursuit of eternal life.

But the Lord looks out for us and helps remove the barriers. He permits us to make some of what might seem to be “poor choices.” And he allows some of the rich economies of the world to slip into recession.

Could there be a silver lining in losing one’s job, or one’s investment in the stock market? Perhaps not on the surface. But if our loss of wealth makes it easier for us to enter into eternal life, maybe it’s not as bad a tradeoff as at first thought.

(Jerry Monks is a member of the Spokane Diocese’s Guatemala Commission.)

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