Thursday, September 17, 2015

You Can’t Take It With You

By Colleen O’Sullivan

Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it.  If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.  Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains. (I Timothy 6:6-10)

Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.  Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, (among them) Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out.  (Luke 8:1-2)

Yet in no way can a man redeem himself,
or pay his own ransom to God;
Too high is the price to redeem one’s life; he would never have enough
to remain alive always and not see destruction.
(Psalm 49:8-10)

How true it is that we leave the world just as we entered it – with nothing in the way of money or material goods.  My mother has been gone for almost four years and my father is entering hospice tomorrow.  He will never live in his home of 58 years in Delaware again.  My sister, along with her children and friends, took upon herself the project of cleaning the house out over the summer so it can be put on the market.  My mother always kept it looking like something out of a magazine – nothing out of place, no extraneous items sitting around here or there.  So it was somewhat surprising to discover how much stuff my parents managed to squirrel away out of sight.  There were even maintenance manuals to every car they’d owned over 60 years of marriage as well as old J.C. Penney Co. catalogs dated prior to 2000 neatly stored in the basement!

All of a sudden I’ve been looking at myself and all the things I own in a different light.  Do I really need all of it?  As we read in the first Scripture, our needs are fairly basic – food and clothing.  I would add shelter and employment to the list.  But when I look around, especially when I imagine someone having to clean out my possessions at the end of my life, I’m afraid that person might say, “She really didn’t know the difference between needs and wants!”   

We can’t take our money or anything our money has purchased with us when we depart this life.  But there is one thing that stays with us, our relationship with Jesus.  Mary Magdelene could tell us something about that.  Worth more than all the gold and silver in the world is what Jesus offers us – release from the burden of our sins, forgiveness and mercy, a chance for a new life with him.  Mary will never forget or cease to be grateful for what Jesus has done for her.  The close relationship she enjoyed with the Lord in this life I’m sure continued as she was received into the arms of Christ for all eternity.  That kind of inner peace and joy cannot be had for any sum of money.

So why not give up the worship of money and worldly goods and give our loyalty instead to the One whose gift is everlasting?

In an address in Bolivia in July, Pope Frances stated:  And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea – one of the first theologians of the Church – called “the dung of the devil”. An unfettered pursuit of money rules. This is the “dung of the devil.”  Pope Francis was talking specifically in reference to the world’s ecosystem, but that phrase, “the unfettered pursuit of money,” could be applied to many facets of our lives, including our personal wealth and accumulation of material goods.

Take a few minutes to imagine someone cleaning out your house and wrapping up your finances and legal affairs after your death.  It might make you squirm, because not many of us want to think about dying, but the bottom line is it will happen to all of us.  What impression would that person walk away with?  Who would they say is our God – the modern version of the golden calf, money, or our Lord Jesus Christ?

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