Our family went to a “Thirsting in the Desert” Lenten prayer service at the Catholic Worker House in Cleveland. One of the readings was about Jesus fasting in the desert and then being exposed to a series of temptations by Satan. At one point, Satan takes Jesus to the top of a mountain where, in “an instant,” they look out at at all the kingdoms of the world. Then Satan says: “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want.” During a discussion that followed in the prayer service, I said that while you don’t hear this much from the pulpit, doesn’t the passage indicate Satan can “bless” people (“…and I can give it to anyone I want.”)? So often you hear American Christians these days say that God has “blessed” them with the big house, or the nice car, or… But has He? Or rather, has God “blessed” someone with, say, a good income? And then this person takes most of the money and is enticed (by Satan, through modern advertising, etc.) to spend it on the big house, or the nice car for: themselves. Just like Satan tried to entice Jesus. Meanwhile, 24,000 people currently starve to death every day in the world and scores of little children sleep on inner city streets. What Satan has done with many an American Christian is: He has taken them to the top of a mountain and has shown them a glamorized version of: “the American Dream.” An Economics Professor at St. Mary’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, recently said to me: “Satan will give us anything we need — to go to Hell.” But if you really think about all this spiritually, it’s not our money in the first place, it’s God’s money — that is on loan to us. So, in line with the God’s gospel message, we can live very simply and invest a good portion of the money into God’s kingdom by trying to end hunger, poverty, and the like. Or, more in line with Satan’s ‘gospel,’ we can invest most of the money in the big house, nice car (nice furniture, expensive entertainment, nice clothes…), for ourselves. And oh yeah, if there’s any left over– give a little bit (percentage-wise) to the poor. Note: There’s another Bible story about three servants who are given money by their master before he goes away for awhile. Upon his return, he finds two of the servants have invested his money, and both show good returns. (Year 2007 corrolary: These servants have invested in programs to financially adopt Third World children. They have invested to subsidize mentoring programs for inner city youth. They have invested in outreach programs to impact rural poverty in Mississippi… And the “return” has been an end to some of this abject poverty — and, ultimatley, more souls for God. Then there’s the “worthless servant” who has “buried” the money he was given in a big house, nice car, IRA account… It doesn’t bode well for him.