How many times have I heard someone say, "If only I could hit the lottery". That thought always makes me pause and imagine the "what-if" of buying a ticket for a few dollars and realizing several million in return. If money is simply a means to self ends, then that is an enchanting thought. However, money is so much more than that, and thanks to nefarious actors in state governments, now it is so much less.
The lottery cash comes from millions of other people who are embracing the "what-if" dream. For many of them it has grown into a compulsion which will not allow them to not buy a ticket at each and every cycle, for fear that they would miss their day. Lotteries are a voluntary tax on the poor. It was sold as a fun and painless way to raise money for sanctimonious causes such as the school system. "This money would insure that our children have the best and most complete education possible", is a typical politician's quote, as they pushed this legalized gambling down the tax payer's throats.
If you did hit it big, what would you do with the blood, sweat and tears of a million people, which was gathered up into a bundle and dropped into your lap? Choose wisely, because our good Lord is watching. You may believe that the money is yours, free and clear, but the truth is, as long as we live, we are never free and clear. We must always use whatever God gives us, which is exactly everything we get, regardless of the method, for the good of our neighbors. Would you have the courage and the will to resist the temptation to spend on yourself to the point of losing your soul? I suspect that the majority of the lottery winners have failed that test. That is what the value of money really is; it is the potential labors of your fellow humans and any good or pleasure you derive from having so much of it can only come from other people working for you. That is a big responsibility.
As for the government's high sounding motivations to fund "schools" with their cut of the loot, understand this, the money didn't just go to the schools. It went into the main pot and the school money came from that. When they conned our citizens into supporting this "school windfall" what they were really doing was finding a way to harvest more of our money for their everyday, ordinary runaway spending habits, with the benefit of this version of their endless taxes being a voluntary one. "Buy" a ticket and get an infinitesimally small chance of receiving a windfall and we will keep half for our cut, and our poorest lined up and sent in millions of dollars which they never saw again.
Now we come to this weeks announcement by the Illinois Lottery that they are broke and will not payout any winning amount over $600.00 until the state legislature ends it's budget impasse. What?! The lottery needs to get money FROM the state funds?! Remember when they sold the lottery to us as a free ride. People contribute and win some back and the schools get free money. How can it be that they are short? It is because they lied. They put all of the money into the state pot and were using cash flow from the government to make payouts, which they hoped would be rare events. They failed to reserve the potential winnings. They spent it all. What a bunch of crooks, and watch how no one will go to jail for it.
These are the thieves which our Lord warned us about. Forget about the lottery. They only promise you the tiniest chance at comfort and ease of mind, at a certain cost and even fail at that. Our Lord promises infinite graces, love, comfort and peace. He promises to provide everything you need and all it will cost you is your love and trust. Just try to out love Him and you will receive far more in return. As for those leaches in the state house, walk away from their shell game and let their lottery schemes crumble down around their ankles.