My attention was grabbed by a story on Loop News today. It immediately called to mind an incident in the life of Jesus which led him to issue a solemn warning to his disciples. The Loop News story is quoted below:
“The body of a Jamaican man, who served in the British Navy, is still locked away in storage in a downtown Kingston morgue — nine years after his death.
And there seems to be no end in sight as the matter is now in court with the funeral home director, Michael Jones, seeking millions of dollars incurred in storage fees.
The man died in 2007 leaving several millions in assets. He had given instructions to family members that one of his properties should be sold to cover his funeral expenses.
But his instructions were never followed, the funeral home director told Loop News.
“At the time of his death, family members requested that the funeral home bury the deceased and that they would cover the cost at a later date,” said the funeral director in an interview.
The director said he declined and told the family that he would delay the proceedings until they came up with the relevant funds.
That was in 2012.
He said preparations were also placed on hold as morgue officials had to wait on the burial order and other documents.
Still, during the wait, the family members failed to come up with the cash, resulting in the legal action to recover storage costs.”
My mind, could not help but return to Luke 12, where where we are told told that one day as Jesus was in a crowd a young suddenly called out to him asking him to tell his brother to divide the inheritance with him. Jesus proceeded to use the opportunity to teach his disciples about the pernicious flaw of greed. He issues a dire warning.
“15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” [NIV]
15 Then He said to them,“Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” [NASB]
“Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.” [MSG]
It is clear that this matter was treated very serious by Jesus. The fact that He seized the opportunity, occasioned by the seeming unfair distribution of the “dead left” property which was placed before him indicates that we should pause to carefully heed his warning to be on guard, to be aware, to watch out.
Greed, as pernicious as cancer, has been at the heart of the demise of great and small alike. It has brought kings and foot soldiers to shame. It has led to genocide. It has led to the perpetual impoverishment of generations. Broken homes, fragmented communities, shame and scandals. There is no end to the side effects of greed. The antidote for greed is contentment.
This must not be confused with lack of ambition. It is a state of not being ruled by the lust of the eye. A place of being able to be satisfied with what one has while working towards improvement but not as an end in itself. It speaks to one’s life, one’s value and one’s sense of identity being rooted and grounded in transcendent values rather than the material, the world’s goods.
We can only hope that good sense will prevail and that the life of this man can be duly celebrated and his remains be given the final rites.