Luke 12: 13-21
One of the multitude said to him, "Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me." But he said to him, "Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?" And he said to them, "Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, `What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, `I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, `Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
The sins of our culture are many, but one of the biggest and probably the easiest to penetrate even the holiest of households is materialism. Coveting our neighbors goods is a sin. Our appearance-driven society leads us into daily temptation. How do I hold up? Do I look through my Pottery Barn catalog with an eye to serve God? Do I watch HDTV to be a good steward of my daily bread? Or, are these instances of temptation for me?
Much has been written throughout Church history on how to simplify our lives. Jesus reminds us "the abundance of [our] possessions" will not make us happy. All of us know someone who is unhappy and tries to fill his/her life with material goods or earthly successes. Most of the saints, however, practice poverty, austerity, some even drastically cutting themselves off from material things in order to avoid such temptations. What makes me happy?
Occasionally, I have the morbid thought that it would be nice if my house and all of my possessions were destroyed and insurance would cover their value. Then, if I had the chance to completely start over, would I have the strength to live as simply as my inner heart desires? I enjoy moving to a new home, because it is an opportunity to get rid of stuff. What things do I have that are unnecessary? What things do I have that are a result of giving into the temptation of trying to keep up with the Joneses? Can I part with them?
God reminds us that we know not the hour when our soul will stand before Him. Most of us do put a focus on those treasures that God values - our families, our faith, our virtues. But, all of us have room to grow. How can I be "[richer] toward God?" Can I reduce my material possessions to benefit others and grow closer to the Lord? Do I have a right attitude toward the material possessions I have and want, regardless of their quantity? It is not necessarily wrong to have; attitude counts.
We all know this life is passing. How often do I think of that fact on a daily basis? When is the last time I purged my closets? the kids' toys? my clothes? my shoes? etc? Is it time for me to let go of any items which I keep with unhealthy adoration? What objects would I be hesitant to give up? Are those with good reason?
I was brainwashed as a child by our culture to want more...more...more. I struggle with this on a daily basis, as we struggle to pay our bills. How can I break free of this constant tendency for covetousness? How can I break the cycle for my children and teach them to be grateful for what they have?