They sell chairs at thrift stores, you know … Sunday, August 4

Overstuffed wing chair slip covered in plaid

Have a seat.

The Gospel of the Lord …  Luke 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”  He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”  Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable.  “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.  He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”

~

“Stuff”. I have a Franciscan friend who owns a car. He has, of course, taken a vow of poverty. It’s a nice car. So, how does that work? Well, he travels some, going here and there, filling in when a parish priest goes on vacation, things like that. He travels hundreds of miles in doing this. He’s in his eighties and I really don’t think God expects him to walk, although I’m sure he would. There is, I suppose, always the bus. But then that gets to be hit or miss, given schedules and the like. So he owns a car because its something that’s put to use and necessary. His name is on the car’s title, but the car title does not include him. Owning a car in this instance has nothing to do with ownership as such. It’s a matter of necessity and nothing more.

I know someone else who isn’t a Franciscan. Over the years they’ve moved several times. Every time they move they give most of what they have away. Its easier than packing and hauling it all. Their take on “stuff”? Give them $200 and a few thrift stores and they’ll furnish a two bedroom house. Including artwork on the walls. They have, needless to say, simple tastes. They also have something else. Personally, I call it “freedom”.

Jesus talked a lot about things and how they hold people down, hold people back. Have you ever stubbed your toe on the leg of a chair? Stuff gets in the way, doesn’t it? Sometimes painfully. And it’s that pain of ownership that’s the problem. Agonizing over the stuff because we love it and we love it because we’ve given it a wrong place in our lives. Like the chair pulled a little to far out from the wall, guaranteed to be in a position for toe stubbing. And what happens next? Those things we put so much confidence in and that we love so much, being in a wrong position, come between us and other, more important, things. Other, more important, relationships. Sometimes the chair gets pulled out from the wall so far that it comes between us and God. And no “thing” is worth that. Not a chair or a car or money or social position or any other kind of stuff we might think of.

So what’s to be done? We live in a material world. We’re physical ourselves. Stuff is needed. Try living without medicine or water or food or others. There is nothing wrong with stuff, and Jesus never said there was. He wasn’t trying to tell people to give up stuff. It’s OK for my Franciscan friend to own his car because its needed and its not really HIS car, its just a car and the car does NOT own him. Jesus teaches us proper attitude towards things and possession(s). Jesus teaches us to move beyond things, to move around the chair, to push it back against the wall where it belongs, where it won’t be in our way, and where we won’t stub our toe.

Priorities. Stuff. Ownership. Necessity. And an abundance of thrift stores. There’s no end to stuff. But you? God? Our relationship? We, each of us, need to be more than willing, even anxious, to let the other guy have a seat. Here, take my chair. 😉 Wait. Let me push it back against the wall. Its more comfortable there.

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3 Comments

  1. Downsizing has practical advantages both in this life and for the next. Thanks for these insightful posts, J-M. I look for you every day in the WordPress Reader. God bless!

    • Thank you. And thank you also for telling me about scheduling posts. Now I write when I want and every morning at 3 a.m., just like magic, “poof!”, there it is. 🙂

      • Blogging would be simplier if the earth were flat and we all woke up and retired at the same time 😉


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