We see in Herod and in the manner of the Roman occupation of Israel, during that time, greed in large part imposing a yoke of oppression on the Jews living in the land. Herod was living in luxury and bent on keeping his power and wealth. The excessive taxation he imposed in the name of Rome and the Almighty Caesar (as well as in his own name, secondarily) on the one hand kept the Jews in their place. But it also tended to foment the unrest and dissatisfaction of many Jews. And most of them looked forward to the promise of the coming Messiah who would break all worldly yokes off of his people, in his reign.
There were some Jews who benefited from cooperating with Herod and Rome. But the majority suffered, They longed for the coming of Messiah who would be greater than Solomon. We probably see this when the crowd following Jesus, after being fed by him through his sign (miracle), wanted to make him their "Bread King" (John 6).
Greed afflicts us all. It seems, from Jesus' teaching as well as from Scripture to especially have a hold on many of the rich. Jesus declared it hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Maybe this was simply to make the point that the rich were not inherently closer to the kingdom than the poor. In fact Jesus seems to have clearly taught the opposite. Yet rich and poor alike can be afflicted with the sin of greed. This is why Jesus turns to those around him and tells them to beward of greed, because a person's life does not consist in wealth and possessions (Luke 12).
When God becomes flesh, in the Incarnation we celebrate at Christmas, we see the opposite of greed. God stoops down to the point of completely identifying with a lost and sinful human race. He gives completely of himself, even to the point of the death of the cross. So that we humans can give ourselves completely to him and to each other, in return. He became poor so that he, by his poverty, could make us rich (2 Corinthians 8).
Notice the family Jesus was born into. While not living in abject poverty, nevertheless among those who work hard, and seem, at least at the start, to be among those who are poor. Why didn't God pick a wealthy family to raise his Son? Maybe this had, in large part to do with the contrast he wanted to make between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world. The great in his kingdom would be those who are servants to all, of whom the Messiah would be the greatest.
Some of the most generous people I know are themselves poor. They have to watch every dollar. Yet they do what they can, and when a few extra dollars come that they "don't need", they do good by helping someone else in need. This is the true spirit of Christmas. The true spirit of Christ. The true spirit we are to have and be moved by, as Christians.
Paul points out that giving is a grace from God. As Jesus told his disciples, we are to give freely, in the same way we have received from God. And in so doing we'll receive more to so give. Only because God gave us his all in Jesus, can we in turn give our all to God and to the world, as Jesus did. We need to keep growing in this grace of giving. And make it a big part, not only of our celebration of the greatest Gift of all, but of our lives year round.
What are you learning about this in your own life? Or what would you like to share about this?