3 Advent: Dec. 11/12, 2021
Tis a gift to be simple, ‘tis a gift to be free, ‘tis a gift to come down where we ought to be; and when we find ourselves in the place just right, ‘twil be in the valley of love and delight. . .
During these days of Advent – we are being called and invited to journey to Bethlehem joyful and triumphant!
But worry and fear our two things that can rob us of our sense of triumph and take away our sense of joy. . . and so can the desire to always want MORE!
Isaac was a simple man who lived all alone in a small cabin near a forest. He had a few animals and a small garden and was relatively content with his life. He liked taking long walks in the forest, spending afternoons fishing at a nearby lake, and spending the evenings tending his garden and the animals.
Although he was happy with his life, he often wished he had more things – like his neighbors did.
Perhaps a bigger house, nicer possessions, and the latest gadgets.
One day he was out digging a hole for a new fruit tree he wanted to plant – and dug up a chest. And when he opened it, lo and behold --- it was filled with silver and gold coins --- enough to build a few rooms onto his cabin, enough to buy nicer stuff, even enough to buy the biggest television on the market. And he still had lots of coins left over – which he hid in a box down in the basement.
After enjoying his bigger cabin and all his new possessions for a few weeks – Isaac noticed that his life had changed.
He no longer went for long walks in the forest, fearful that someone would break into his bigger cabin and rob him of his nicer stuff.
He forgot all about fishing, worrying now not so much about the catch of fish he could have – but the catch of things someone else could have ---- if they came across his cabin without him protecting it.
Isaac’s garden became overgrown with weeds and the animals were neglected all because he was afraid to be out of his cabin and then someone could rob him of his possessions.
Isaac even lost all kinds of sleep, fearful that every noise he heard was a thief coming in the night.
Isaac began to wonder how he could just get back to the life he had before he found the treasure in the field. His joyful life of taking long walks in the forest, spending afternoons fishing, and spending his evenings once again tending to his garden and the animals. . .
John the Baptist has a solution for Isaac – and for all of us willing to listen: SIMPLIFY your life and be GENEROUS with what you have.
--John told the crowds --- if you are blessed to have two cloaks, share with the person who has none. Those who have food should do likewise.
--And to tax collectors – John told them to quit taking more than the actual tax – just so they can skim off the top to fund their lavish lifestyles. In other words, don’t live beyond your means.
And to soldiers, John told them to be satisfied with what they are paid – and to stop thinking that having more will make things better.
SIMPLIFY your life: or as a popular phrase tells us – live simply so that others can simply live.
But our whole society works against us reordering and simplifying our lives. Ours is a very cluttered, and complicated world.
Advertisements-- no matter how they come: on television, radio, on-line, or on bill boards -- have one major goal --- to make us discontent, woefully dissatisfied with who we are and what we have.
So we will buy what they offer – and so buy is what we do. . . trying to buy happiness with things ---- instead of cultivating joy.
The watchword of our consumptive society is very loud and clear: MORE. Enough is never enough. As one bumper sticker I saw expressed it: “All I want is just a little more-- than I have right now.”
And so we acquire, and we keep, and we accumulate. . . which leaves us strained and fretful, and worn out -----and far from heeding the advice of John the Baptist. . .
One of the greatest causes of anxiety, negative thinking, and a sense lethargy – a lack of energy and enthusiasm and I will also add a lack of joy --------- is self-absorption.
Selfishness inclines people toward failure because it keeps them in a negative mental rut.
That’s the reason Dr. Karl Menninger responded the way he did when someone asked him, “what would you advise a person to do, if they felt like they were at the end of their ropes and ready to have a complete breakdown?”
Most people expected him to reply, “consult a psychiatrist,” since that was his profession.
But to their astonishment, Menninger replied:
“Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks, find someone in need, and do something to help that person.”
Irish journalist and writer, Kevin Myers, says:
“most people are too insecure to give anything away. Most people focus all their attention on themselves do so because they feel that they are missing something in their lives, so they’re trying to get more.”
Developing a giving spirit, as Dr. Menninger implies, helps a person to overcome some of those feelings of deficiency in a positive and healthy way. That’s why he says: “Generous people are rarely mentally ill people. Because a person is less likely to focus on themselves if they are trying to help someone else.”
The chief motive of a selfish, ungrateful person is to get. . . while the chief motive of the dedicated Christian is to give.
Getting. . . or giving? Which will it be for us?
12/12/2021 07:38:49 am
Once again, you've nailed it on the head! The story of Isaac is one I wish everyone could read or hear. Even though I live on limited means, now that Bob has gone, I try to give as much as possible to those in need - and there are so many who are hurting! However, I feel I have been blessed, knowing that what I have given in goods or money will help someone needier than I. God is still working on me and in me - and I rejoice in that on this Gaudete Sunday!
12/12/2021 04:11:57 pm
Excellent as usual. I will be sending this to my daughter who lives in Colorado Springs who often doesn't attend mass. Pray for her and her children thank you.
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