Psalms 72 * 119:73-96; Leviticus 19:1-18; 1Thessalonians 5:12-28; Matthew 6:19-24
I like things....nice things. I own a nice home, have furnished it (at least I think) in a tasteful manner. Not too expensive, but not cheap either. I drive a ten year old luxury car, that I am quick to point out to people that I inherited and did not purchase. I like nice, comfortable clothes and good restaurants and good wine and beer. I have an addiction to shoes and I like bags of all sorts. One of the conundrums is that I do not get paid a salary commiserate with my tastes, and I am forced to be very careful with what I purchase, making my interest in shoes and bags more window shopping then anything else. On the other side of the coin, I do tithe 10% of my net cash income to the church and support other charities close to my heart as best I can. And then we have today's readings which bring forth conflicting feelings. I wrestle with the topics brought up in today's readings on a regular basis.
I strongly believe that we cannot serve both wealth and God, for wealth can and does become an idol to all of us. Having too much "stuff" absolutely can get in the way of experiencing, enjoying and even understanding life. Having stuff for the sake of stuff is never a healthy choice. To me there is a difference between serving wealth for wealth's sake, balanced against utilizing what gifts we have been given through our own labors and the grace of God and "doing the right thing" based on our own conscience and thoughtful choices. Moderation, and the joy that things can bring are an important balance within that equation.
Perhaps that is what Jesus is pushing us towards today: thoughtful self-examination in regard to all aspects of our life, in particular today, to "stuff", "things". Never easy, but nonetheless important.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All rights reserved.