Today’s Gospel: Luke 12:13-21 – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“There are two ways to get enough,” G.K. Chesterton once said. “One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”
My father taught me so much about avoiding the trap of storing up treasures on earth. Growing up poor in a family of nine children at the end of the Great Depression, he learned early, especially through his mother, Grandma Mary, that investments in people are what make us rich. Though Grandma died before I was born, Dad, her youngest son, shared often about her excellent cooking and kind hospitality, and how she always made room for the stranger — an extra cousin or someone just needing a meal or conversation.
Often, when I felt that we, too, were poor, he’d remind me of how much we had in comparison to so many. In a sense, my father, who was an active alcoholic for many years before his recovery, died in physical poverty. Having relinquished his career as an English teacher to addiction, he depended on my mother’s income the better part of his life, and his possessions were few. What little he and my mother did have was burned in a house fire six years before his death.
However, he had us, and having returned to his Catholic faith after 35 years of estrangement, he also had God. The treasures he’d stored up were anonymous donations to needy families when he did have extra cash, kindness to the lonely who passed in and out of his life on the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana, the love of family, and faith. When he passed, with my sister and me at his side, Dad left behind a single tear, perhaps a symbol of his gratitude for leaving this world wealthy, not in possessions but in love.
When falling into comparisons with those who have seem to have “more” — or when my children fall into the trap of comparing — how can I dig deeper to reflect on, and share with them, those things we can store up together that really matter?
Dear Lord, in our culture of excess, we can easily lose sight of the true treasures, and waste this “one wild and precious life,” as poet Mary Oliver phrased it, on things that don’t ultimately matter. Please help me have clear vision on the true treasures, of both this world and the next.
Copyright 2019 Roxane Salonen
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