A young man knocked on a priest's door, crying. "Father, my dog has just died. He was like one of the family. I was wondering if you would be able to perform his funeral?"
The priest replied: "I am very sorry to hear about your dog. I really am. But we never ever say funerals for animals."
"Never?" the man asked. The priest replied: "Never ever ever. But look, there's a new church that has just started up down the road a couple of months ago and heaven only knows what's going on down there! I am sure that if you asked them to put on some kind of service for your dog that they would be more than happy to put on something in your dog's honour."
The young man dried his eyes and said: "Thank you Father, you've been very helpful. By the way, if I offered that new church down the road $10,000 to do the service ... do you think that would be enough to cover the costs and as a donation?"
The priest put his hand on the man's shoulder and said to him with a smile: "My son, why didn't you tell me your dog was a Catholic?"
Whether it's last week's budget, the changes in JobKeeper or the rush to get tax returns in by the end of the month, a lot of Australians are thinking about money right now.
But can a person think too much about money? What if they unknowingly became obsessed with money?
If we were to fall into the temptation of loving money a little too much, how bad can avarice get? Well, I think about as bad as things can get.
The King James Version of the Bible says "the love of money is the root of all evil".
The good book says that those who become rich, fall into the temptation of - among other things - unprofitable and hurtful desires, which plunge them into destruction.
The above joke about a $10,000 donation is not a true story (I hope), but it is a humorous reminder of how quickly people's motivations can change when money is involved.
I have seen people do things on TV, and in real life, beneath any human's dignity and they have admitted that the only reason for their actions was money.
Whether it's last week's budget, the changes in JobKeeper or the rush to get tax returns in by the end of the month, a lot of Australians are thinking about money right now. But ... if we were to fall into the temptation of loving money a little too much, how bad can avarice get? Well, I think about as bad as things can get.
These actions may not necessarily have been acts of avarice. Maybe these people were in dire need of money; but they have had me musing again on the concept that the desire for money has caused some of those coveting it to err from their principles and they have entangled themselves in many sorrows.
Mother Teresa said: "I fear just one thing: Money. Greed was what motivated Judas to sell Jesus."
To be clear, I only speak here of the danger of the love of money, not money. People who make a lot of money because of their hard-earned qualifications, works and talents are to be praised. People on low wages who work a lot of hours in the hope of improving their lives and the lives of their loved ones are to be praised. Those who have saved and saved to protect their futures are to be praised. But anyone can fall victim to avarice. In my work with the poor and even the homeless, I have at times been saddened to discover how avaricious even they can be. Some, although having so little, seemed obsessed over these few possessions. In their defence, perhaps they became so obsessed with their goods because they had so little. Perhaps that is why they have so little.
Because here is the thing: avarice, like all vices, does not even work. It doesn't even attain its goal.
Professor Thomas J Stanley interviewed more than 700 millionaires before releasing his research on the mindset of millionaires and their habits in The Millionaire Mindset (2000). Stanley discovered that there are people out there that are controlled by greed: "They are misers. They even shortchange their spouses and children. Money is their God. These people are not of the millionaire mind."