Gambling. It's become so prevalent in our culture that any negatives associated with it tend to remain unspoken. We know, however, that something widely practiced and often legal isn't necessarily moral. Prostitution and abortion are evidence of that. But even the Catechism has very little to say about gambling, and if you've ever heard it mentioned in a homily you're probably in the minority. It's time to broaden that perspective and look at some of the downsides.

The gambling issue of concern is not the local church or community raffle characterized by donated prizes with proceeds going for a known worthwhile project, but the kind where money changes hands, each side looking to take more from the other, with few winners and many losers. The Catechism addresses this briefly in paragraph 2413, indicating that games of chance or wagers are not contrary to justice unless someone is deprived of necessities as a result. Hmm. Maybe that particular someone is the now destitute neighbor whose losses financed other gambler's winnings, including our own. Consider also that some gambling venues are accompanied by drug dealing, human trafficking, and prostitution. Inviting this kind of activity by spending recreational money on gambling there is not a welcome thought. It might even be enough to spur some to exercise their good stewardship and reconsider where they place their bets.

The casual acceptance of gambling also tends to mask a significant deception: the inclination to greed, dictionary defined as a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed. Ironic that the object of this greed is marked "In God We Trust". Forbidden by the tenth commandment, greed is also known as one of the seven deadly (capital) sins. Deadly because it can also lead to or support other sinful actions. Sirach 31:5 warns that "the lover of gold will not be free from sin; whoever pursues money will be led astray by it". St. Paul cautions that the love of money is the root of all evils. And in Luke 12:15, our Savior directs us to avoid greed in all its forms.

Since everyone must decide the justification for their own actions regarding gambling, an examination of conscience on this issue can be beneficial. So can the Sacrament of Reconciliation for those who, as a result, arrive at a troubling conclusion.

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