The following is a letter from a parishioner from the Nativity of Our Lady Catholic Church in San Luis Obispo, CA that appeared in their August 2010 Sunday Church bulletin. It is in reference to the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. We wanted to share it, as we were moved and how it will move you, too. You can read the five most recent bulletins at the church’s website: http://www.nativityslo.org/.
Greg and I have a friend whose garage has a large poster of a sleek red Ferrari, with a caption that reads, “The one who dies with the most toys wins.” Our friend has an enormous home, beautifully decorated, and all the “toys” to go with it – a pool, several sports cars, a boat, some jet skis, an airplane, and even another home for vacations. You’d think that his life is full of the joy of play, but of course he has to work extremely hard to pay for all this stuff. And in fact, when he’s not working, our friend spends most of his time MAINTAINING the stuff – cleaning, storing, repairing, painting, and otherwise tending to all of his possessions rather than enjoying them. We rarely see him relaxed.
If that’s winning, I think I’ll pass. And yet, it’s so easy to get caught up in the race to “die with the most toys.” I can’t even hold up our friend as a bad example, because if I had his wealth, I’m afraid that I might also want to collect a lot of fabulous stuff! Perhaps many of us are prone to being like the rich man in today’s gospel from Luke, who builds ever-bigger barns to store all his accumulated “grains and other goods,” only to hear the voice of God calling him to account: “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?”
The point, of course, is that the one who dies with the most toys … well … DIES. And then someone else gets the toys! True wealth, as Jesus reminds us in this parable, is found in “what matters to “God.” Fortunately, Luke’s gospel names the things that matter to God: prayer, honesty, generosity, mercy, love for the other – qualities that won’t be taken away, but are given to us by God to cherish and share.
Deborah Wilhelm – Nativity Parishoner