• There is a very famous short story named 'Six Feet Land', penned by the World
    renowned writer, Leo Tolstoy. The gist of the story is: There once lived a landless peasant. He
    wished to possess a freehold piece of land. He managed to get an appointment with the chief
    of the locality and requested for a strip of land. The chief agreed to grant his request on a
    condition: On a day–time, from sunrise onwards he can cover on the land of his choice – as
    much land he can go round on feet in a day is his own. If he doesn't return to the spot where he
    started, nothing will be given.
    The delighted peasant started early on the next morning. He wanted to grab plenty of
    land. He left food, water, his coat, his cap, and his shoes, to save time. He longed to rest but it
    was impossible for him, if he meant to get back before sunset. He gathered all his strength
    and he walked on and on. After a hard walking, he began running. He was far away from his
    starting point. 'I have to gather much' he thought.
    He was done up with the heat. He was breathless and exhausted. The sun was
    almost near the rim. His feet were cut and bruised. His legs began to fail. All his enthusiasm
    was gone! “All my labour has been in vain,” he repented. “If only I have not blundered trying for
    too much! I can't get back before sunset.” He gathered his last strength to get back.
    Over-exhausted and breathless, he fell forward and dropped dead. “How much land
    does a man need?” The servants of the chief picked up the spade and dug a grave long
    enough for him to lie in, “Six feet” from head to heels.
    This story is an excellent example of greed for more and more wealth and its
    destructive impact on man.
    It is very important for us to know about relevance and importance of wealth and its
    right use in day to day lives. The right attitude towards wealth is not to reject the same or put
    one's total trust on it, but the proper and just use.

    Wealth God's Gift

     

    It is the genuine desire of all to be wealthy for enjoying prosperity in life. The very
    desire of a person to gather wealth is not wrong at all. It is the will of God that all human beings
    shall lead a comfortable and happy life. Wealth is a divine gift for the same. The psalmist
    declares that the one who depends on God shall lack nothing. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I
    shall not want” (Ps. 23:1).
    There are many instances in the Bible exemplifying the fact that one's life will flourish
    if he / she puts trust in God. As long as we are sojourners here on earth, we need wealth. The
    Good Lord is pleased to give us the same for further progress and happy life. But we shall not
    forget that wealth is for our need and not for our greed. One who takes pride on wealth will
    perish.
     

    We are Stewards of Wealth

     

    With regard to the wealth, our Christian attitude is that we are not its masters; but we
    are only trusties according to the will of God, who is the real master and source of all wealth.
    We should use our wealth without submitting our hearts to the wealth of. One should learn to
    handle and utilize one's wealth acknowledging life the best thing in life are not material things
    and possessions and affluence.

     

    Right to Possess Wealth and Property

     
    Everyone has got his/her right to possess property and wealth. It is a basic human
    right to possess property irrespective of caste or creed. However, it shall not to be at the cost
    of other's rights for the same – no question of denying another's claim to possess property.
    Ownership of private property is encouraged by the Church. It helps us to enjoy
    freedom for further progress. The church also teaches that one should posses' wealth with
    one's own hard works. But it should not be at the cost of social justice and equality.

     

    Acquisition: Earning of Wealth

     

    Wealth is a gift of God and it is very necessary for a fruitful and prosperous life.
    Therefore everyone has a right to possess wealth by right means and to save the same. One
    has to try to seek proper means to earn property and resources to make good use of the
    same. But one shall not attach undue importance to one's possessions. If we are preoccupied
    with our possessions ignoring God, the very source of all wealth, it would be
    ingratitude towards him. We are able to acquire wealth only because God has given us
    talents and health. The Lord repeats the same. He once promised to the Israelites: “Beware
    lest you say in your heart, 'my power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this
    wealth'. But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth; so
    that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today” (Deut
    8:17-18).
     

    Acquisition of Wealth by Unjust Means

     
    Though our possessions are God's bounty, we have no right to appropriate the fruits
    of another person's labour. Only the wealth acquired through proper channels will be ours to
    enjoy. One has got right to earn for his / her immediate use and essential needs, like, food,
    shelter, and clothing. They are put ones disposal. But the wealth earned by fraud methods, not
    paying right wages, forcing up prices by taking advantage of ignorance and hardship of
    another are all against, social justice and violation of divine law. God tells us through the mouth
    of Prophet Jeremiah: “For scoundrels are found among my people; they take over the goods of
    others. Like fowlers they set a trap; they catch human beings. Like a cage full of birds, their
    houses are full of treachery; therefore they have become great and rich, they have grown fat
    and sleek. They know no limits in deeds of wickedness; they do not judge with justice the cause
    of the orphan, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy ” (Jer.5:26-28).
    These words warn us reminding not to hold possessions unjustly as it forbids usurping
    another's property. Divine laws recommend justice and charity in the case of earthly goods and
    fruits of one's labour. It demands common good and respect for other's rights.
    So, it is wrong to earn wealth without one's hard labour. There are many wayward
    organizations to attract and tempt persons to possess easy money, without any labour through
    illegal and unholy sources, such as, black marketing, hoarding, conspiring to create artificial
    scarcity of necessary commodities, robbery, theft, looting, etc. Amassing wealth in an unjust
    manner will pull a person away from the path of salvation. The story of Zacahaeus teaches the
    same message. The wealth we earn through and only through our own efforts, by proper
    channels only, will add happiness and prosperity to one's life.
    The universe holds enough resources in its stock to meet the needs of all and the
    humans have a right to make good use of them for his existence and due development. This
    principle must be the very foundation of earning and utilization of one's possessions. In this
    context, the Psalmist reminds us: “Put no confidence in extortion, and set no vein hopes on
    robbery; if riches increase, do not set your heart on them” (Pslm. 62:10).

     

    Utilization of Wealth

     

    The 'ownership' of property makes its holder a steward of providence with the duty of
    making its benefits available to others also. When a person comes to the awareness that he
    possesses wealth with God's blessings or due to God's providence, he will never misuse it. It is
    not proper to God-fearing persons to think that it's my wealth, it's my property and I can use it
    according to my will and pleasure.
    A true Christian has an obligation to earn and use his wealth for the welfare of his
    family and society. Wealth is to be utilized in accordance with the social dimension of wealthitself. St. Basil tells us: “The bread (loaves) you have reserved in your almarha is not yours. It
    belongs to the hungry. The clothes (dress) you have kept safe in your almarha are not yours. It
    belongs to the naked.” With this conviction we must be able to utilize our possessions, by
    sharing our resources with the poor and the needy brethren.
    Those who hold goods for life and consume the same should use them with
    moderation, reserving the better portion for others – the poor, the sick and the needy. One's
    hard earned money shall be spent prudently. Both, lavish and miserly use of the wealth is
    equally considered sinful. So a Christian is advised to avoid wasteful expenditure. Our
    financial security also depends on the right use of the wealth. On this context, to recall the
    teaching of the Pope Pius XI is relevant. “Wealth should not be wasted away by its misuse or
    non-use at all.” St. Thomas Aquinas highlights on the social perspective of wealth. He tells:
    “Men shall not consider his material wealth solely as his own. It shall be held as common
    properties to be shared with others.” This attitude towards the proper use of wealth will help in
    our Christian commitment by which we will be blessed to lead a life of just and peace.

    For God and for Ceasar

     

    Jesus has taught us to give what is due to God and nation, without any hesitation. This
    principle must be strictly observed by everyone, on the use of wealth. A true Christian must
    become exemplary in this regard, standing for the cause of God and nation. There, certain
    portion of one's wealth shall be set apart for the nation as tax and tithe for God's sake. We must
    be useful citizens for the cause of God and nation.
    It is the duty of a citizen to pay taxes to the nation. St. Paul writes: “Pay to all what is
    due them -taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom
    respect is due, honor to whom honor is due” (Rom 13:7). Our share & contribution is meant for
    the welfare of the society. It is taken for the protection and progress, social security of all,
    irrespective of caste or creed. Tax – evasion, tampering with ones accounts, malpractices like
    misappropriation of income and expenditure, etc are violation of the laws of nation and sin
    before God. It is unjust not to pay the social security contributions (taxes) required by
    legitimate authority.
    We are duty-bound to give our share for the sake of God. We can see the custom of
    giving tithes in Old Testament. All kinds of juridical measures were taken to ensure individual
    obligations: “Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house”
    (Malachi 3:10). There are three different ways to offer what is due to God as religious duty.
    For God and for Ceasar
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    Firstly, it is contribution towards different activities of the Church. This is to assist the
    church for the welfare of the altar servers and liturgical services. Secondly, contribution to
    support the needy and the poor (Care of the Poor). St. John Christotom vigorously says: If
    anyone hesitates to part his share of the wealth with the poor and needy, he will be a thief and
    murderer.
    Thirdly, it is contribution towards the proclamation of the Word of God and
    evangelization programmes and other activities such as retreats, audiovisual programs, mass
    media, conventions etc.
    We too can become participants and preachers of Good News by way of sharing our
    resources willingly. An increased sense of Justice and social awareness will be the basic thing
    to any fundamental development of human society. This development multiplies material
    goods and puts them at the service of the persons. It reduces poverty and economic
    exploitation. Let us generously impart our duty by offering our share, what is due to God and
    the nation.

    Social Teachings of the Church

     

    The church has ever been active in her responsibility in teaching the faithful on
    subjects like acquisition of wealth, responsible use of the same, social justice, etc. As devoted
    members of the church, it is our honour and duty to study and practice these official teachings
    of great importance.
    Some of the important documents, both encyclicals and pastoral letters are given
    below for our information and further guidelines.
     

    1. Rerum Novarum (The condition of Labour)

     
    This is the encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII, in May 15, 1891. This is considered as
    Magnacarta document on the rights of the labourers. This document stands for human,
    economic and social order. The major areas of concern are: Care of the poor, rights of workers,
    role of private property, duties of workers / employers, return to Christian morals and role of
    public authority.

     

    2. Quadragesimo Anno (The Reconstruction of the Social Order)

     

    This is another important social document decreed by Pope Pius XI, in May 15, 1931, 

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