I don’t think I want to win the lottery. I was watching an episode of HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home, enjoying seeing the different house offerings, and started to think about what it could be like to win from a scratch-off ticket or a Powerball drawing.
What’s nice about the show, is that families who participate are not usually seeking multi-million dollar homes. Sometimes they really are the underdogs, who are just getting by and renting a home that is way too small for them. When they have the opportunity to choose to own a home that is much more roomy and has enough private space for each person, you can’t help but to share their joy. Yet sometimes it seems that the lure of the culture’s call for bigger and better weighs more heavily in the deciding factor.
As the families walk through the various homes, it’s hard not to make judgements about what one likes personally. I know the decision has already been made, but I try to pick one, either that I like, or that I think they liked the best, and see if that is what they ended up choosing. During a recent episode, I started thinking, what would I do if I won a scratch-off ticket for one million dollars? I’d like to say that after taxes, I would set some aside for home improvements and travel and then donate the rest to select Catholic charities. While that sounds like a good plan, how much would be “enough” for what I want to do with my home and my travels?
As my brain spun in all different directions pondering this, I realized that all the lottery would do is give me a false sense of financial security. It would also remove from me the ability to trust God for all my needs, not just spiritually, but also financially. We may look at the story of the widow giving the two small coins and Jesus’ praise of her (Mk 12:41-44) and think we always need to share, and that is one lesson to learn from it. Perhaps another lesson is that we need to trust that God will give us all we need, even when it seems that we have less than those around us.
When we hear one of the most famous sayings of Jesus, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” (Mt 22:21) we may think that money doesn’t matter to God and it is separate from Him. But everything that we have is a gift from God. In reality, everything is His — including any money, even that of our paycheck. God has given us the ability and skills to make a living. Work is something that God commanded Adam to do in the garden of Eden. It was only after the fall that work became burdensome. If we trust God and pray for guidance to use our monetary resources to best meet His will, He will bless us. We just have to remember that God’s blessings are not always earthly ones, nor are they aligned with what our culture deems as a success.
It’s no sin to dream about the possibilities of a lottery dream home, as long as we don’t live with the expectation that it will happen and forget to live in the present. We pray in thanksgiving for our homes, despite any flaws or imperfections we see. We also pray in petition to God to help those who are in need of a home, for whatever reason, and for guidance to help in whatever ways we can.