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The Word on the Week

Banking in 2015

It’s been an interesting week for banks.   One took a gamble that it would remain popular and rid itself of those expensive commodities – the small time customer.   The other offered to repay some of the mountain of debt which, though welcome, simply goes to repay the money the State borrowed to bail it out in the first place.

The audacity of the first bank’s approach in forgetting that it wouldn’t exist if we had not stepped in to save it during the recent recession shows how detached a service industry can get from its customers.

In forcing its clients to deal outside the bank door at the ATM increases vulnerable people to theft.   Nor does today’s picture of our border bandits’ destruction of a petrol station, where an excavator was used to dig out the ATM, do anything to inspire confidence in these machines.

We also had the Taoiseach’s spoof in a speech in Europe last week describing the dire state of Ireland during the recession.   In it he recalled a conversation with the governor of our central bank in which he said the use for soldiers to guard ATM’s was considered.   Perhaps his words will yet be seen to be prophetic!

Everyone knows that the root of all kinds of evils is the love of money (1 Timothy chapter 6 verse 10).   It is not money that is the problem but our love of it.

The god mammon is not only attractive to bandits but also bankers.   The former take enormous risks to get other people’s money.   The latter likewise but on a larger scale.   In fact large numbers of graduates shun creative work for the pleasure of playing a numbers game with other people’s money in a global giant corporate roulette!

Jesus knew all about mammon.   He could see how easily it could capture the heart.   His teaching to his followers to do their banking in heaven (the money would never be safe on earth) concluded with “for where your treasure is your heart will be also” (St Matthew chapter 6 verses 19 to 21).

We know just how much we love money when we come to give it away!   Mammon will give you many reasons why you should keep it.   You have earned it.  It is yours by right.   There must be reasons why others are poor!   They would only waste it!!

St Paul’s antidote to this way of thinking is written down for us in his letter to the Philippians.   “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.   Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.   Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Chapter 2 verses 1 to 4).

Mammon or Christ?   Make sure who you are following.