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Reflections on Leap Year

tulips-1083572_640Finally, it seems that the cold snaps are beginning to melt away and Spring is here.

Due to the leap year effect, Spring is early this year—the first official day of spring is March 19.

I was doing some investigating about how Leap Year works, and learned that the Gregorian calendar we use (how we measure days, weeks, months and years) is different than the Tropical Year (how long it actually takes the sun to return to the same position in the cycle of the seasons as viewed from earth.) The Gregorian Year of 365 days is actually 6 hours shorter than the tropical year and thus the need for Leap Year and the addition of an extra day every four years.

However, when the difference between the Gregorian Calendar and the Tropical Calendar is calculated over centuries, the leap year rule needs further adjustment.  Thus any century year that can be divided exactly by 400 is a leap year. For example, the year 2000 was a Leap Year, but the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years.

The whole Leap Year thing made me think about the differences between how God made the world, how the world actually works and the way man perceives the world. This is especially true when it comes to the Compass Catholic Ministries sweet spot—finances.

Most people do not think that God has anything to do with their finances and they are astounded to find that there are over 2,500 verses in the Bible that relate to money and possessions. The Bible contains fewer than 500 verses on prayer and about 500 verses on faith. More than half of the parables are related to money and fifteen percent of everything Jesus said had to do with money. Yet Jesus lived in a much simpler time with no TV, Internet, radio, magazines, catalogues, credit cards, smart phones, billboards, ATMs, debit cards or digital currency. 

Why does the Bible say so much about money? Probably because God knew how much we would deal with money and how tempting it is for us to misuse it. Think about how much time you spend on a daily basis making money, spending money or using something you bought with money—almost 100 percent of our time is somehow related to money. 

We live in a world defined by commercials. Advertisers tell us that we should get everything we want when we want it because we deserve it (and because they want us to buy it!). Most advertising is aimed at making us feel inadequate if we don’t buy what they are selling.  Our culture barrages us with almost non-stop advertising—it’s everywhere! We even pay big bucks to wear advertising on our clothes. 

So many commercials don’t even give us the specifics on the product they want us to buy.  How many car commercials have you seen that talk about safe, reliable, cost effective transportation?  Instead they show a couple kissing passionately in the rain with the car in the background.

The most popular television shows are reality shows that allow us to put ourselves in the place of the contestants as they vie for big money and exotic trips. If we could only own this or that, have more money, vacation there, or drive that car then we would finally be happy. But no matter how much money we have or how much we buy, we’ll never get the fulfillment that can only come from God.  The words of St. Augustine are true: “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”

Our attitude toward money and possessions can be the lever to our hearts. Money can be what draws us closer to God or what drives us to put up a wall between God and ourselves. So many times, we hold on to our money as if it were more important to us than God. But using money wisely and with the right attitude will bring us many blessings. When we give, save and spend in a manner pleasing to God we can grow closer to him. If we are unfaithful with money and possessions, our relationship with him will suffer.

Whether we are rich or poor does not matter. In fact, there are many rich people in the Bible, such as Abraham, Jacob, Samuel, Job and David, all of whom God blessed. There are just as many poor people in the Bible, such as the widow who gave everything, the beggars, the blind and lame, and the dead, all of whom God blessed.

The problem is not how much or how little we have. The problem is our attitude when worldly things become more important to us than God. Society tells us that only things fulfill us and bring us true happiness. When we believe this, we forsake God for our possessions.

One of the most misquoted verses in the Bible is 1 Timothy 6:10: “For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains.” Money is not evil—it’s the love of money that causes problems. Money is simply a tool we use as a medium of exchange. What can be evil is our attitude towards money.

Just as the Gregorian and Tropical Calendars work differently, our culture and God’s creation work differently. So we must decide which is more important to us—what the world throws at us or what God has planned for us?

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”    –  Isaiah 55:8

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