On a recent trip the grocery store my youngest son found some little car or trinket that he just had to have. On a previous trip he had spent his money on gum and so didn't have any money at this time. I refused to buy it for him. Needless to say, he was miserable the for the rest of the trip and much of the afternoon as he stewed over his "loss".
How is it that 25 cents worth of plastic and tin, that my son had no idea existed seconds before finding it, could make him so miserable? How could the perceived loss of something he never possessed ruin his day?
Of course I'll need to step down off the soap box and get on his level because I do the same thing. I bet you do too. In fact, our culture, like no other, conditions us to be consumers. It is as though we live to buy or at least possess. We wake up early to perform a job we may not like in order to get things we don't need or use. We may even take up a second job to make more money in order to rent a storage area to store the things we don't need or use. If we can't obtain the things we want so badly, to put in our sheds, we fume and stew and say life's not fair. It's almost comical.
Both the First Reading and the Gospel encourage us to walk a different path. Jesus and St. Paul plead with us to simplify our lives.
St. Paul wants us to live as though this world is in transition, for it is. Most of what we see today will not be here in 100-200 years, including ourselves. Why should we spend so much time fretting over things that will one day belong to someone else or decay?
Jesus wants us to trust God, live simply, and love our neighbor. Why focus on riches when they will all be taken from us? Why focus on pleasures when thy pale in comparison to what is to come? Why focus on being liked by others when there is only one we need to please?
We came with nothing and we will leave taking nothing. Why spend the precious few moments we have on this earth concerned with what we can't take with us? Why spend the little time allotted to us being miserable because of what we can't have? Would it not be better to our time living simply and helping others, especially those who have far less than we do?
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. - Jim Elliot
A great book that inspired me to simplify my life (and I need to read it again) is The Perfect Joy of St. Francis by Felix Timmerman. Another, if you want a real challenge is - Happy are you Poor: The Simple Life and Spiritual Freedom by Fr. Thomas Dubay.