Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious
June 21, 2019
Today, in Mercy, Jesus puts the whole spiritual life in a nutshell:
When I was a kid (and maybe even now), one of my favorite cartoon characters was Uncle Scrooge McDuck.
I was amazed to think that someone could accumulate all that money, and fascinated to see that all he wanted to do was sit on it!
Both Uncle Scrooge and Jesus pose some deep questions to us today.
- How much do we really need to make us happy?
- Will having it actually make us happy in the long run?
- Where does our happiness come from, if we have happiness at all?
We have seen the theme in a hundred books and movies – poor little rich boy or girl starving for love. We all seem to realize that true wealth comes from love. But do we live and choose by that understanding?
Possessions can distract us from what is truly essential for our soul. Greed and selfishness can kill the Spirit within us.
Our coöptation by materialism and greediness doesn’t have to rise to the level of Scrooge’s mounted millions. So often a miserly heart is crippled by things much more complex than money. We can be sinfully stingy with:
- our attention to those deemed unimportant
- our kindness to those struggling with life
- our forgiveness to the unappreciative
- our presuppositions about what belongs to whom
The following parable has always shaken me down at the root of my assumed entitlements:
A young woman was waiting to catch a flight in the boarding area of the airport. Given that her wait was going to be several hours she decided to buy a book to read along with a packet of cookies to enjoy. She sat down in an armchair in the VIP room of the airport to relax and read her book in peace.
Beside the armchair where the packet of cookies lay, a man was seated next to her reading his magazine. When the woman reached into the packet of cookies to take the first cookie, the man next to her also took one. She was irritated but said nothing. “What nerve this man has!” she thought. For each cookie she took the man also took a cookie.
She was infuriated but didn’t want to cause a scene. When only one cookie remained she thought to herself, “what will this horrible man do now?” The man reached down and broke the cookie into even halves and handed one half to her. It was more than she could handle! She grabbed her things in a huff, refused the half, and stormed off to the boarding area.
When she got onto her seat on the plane she reached into her purse to get her reading glasses and, to her surprise, her packet of cookies was sitting there untouched and unopened.
We might wish to spend some prayer time considering the application of this story to our own attitudes.
Music: Where Your Treasure Is – Marty Haugen