In these times of economic instability and the constant insistence of doom and gloom, the question arises as to when have we put away enough to keep and protect our families for the future? I see many seniors that worked hard all their lives now struggling to survive. We see inflation exploding and the uncertainty of our economic retirement plan, social security, being there when we need it. Health care costs and the expense of aging continue to climb. And while we are still able, we contribute to our IRA’s and retirement plans or make investments in property or collectables with the hope that they will increase in value faster than what it is going to cost to live. So I ask this question that is entertained on everyone’s mind, when is enough, enough?
Should we fear tomorrow and what will come in the next decade and should we hoard our monetary earnings in preparation for the future and everyone we have been entrusted to care for? Our Lord gives this reminder today in the Gospel of St. Luke: “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” [Lk. 12:19-20]
You see, the greatest thing of value you own is not gold or your stock portfolio, it is your time and how you have spent that time! We hear it week after week after week, love thy neighbor! Although love of neighbor is not becoming an enabler, because an enabler can harmfully disable someone, which is another question we humans struggle with, just where is that line of help versus abuse that we shouldn’t cross. Love is not always giving blindly; it is taking the time to care enough to get a glimpse of how we can truly help, and usually not just a short term fix! If your favorite reclining chair is well broken in like mine, then maybe you too have built some bigger barns and not given enough of yourself to your neighbor. (Luke 12:18) Well, that is real hard for an introvert but a necessity for salvation. Less of me, more of Him! Maybe your open wounds are continuing to ooze and you feel insecure about afflicting them with more traumas; try binding your wounds tightly with the burial shroud of Christ and fear not. Love thy neighbor!
Saint Basil gives us these helpful instructions on living the Christian way: “Do not sell at high prices and take advantage of those in want. Beware of waiting for a famine before you open up your storehouses. Do not look to famine to make money, nor to the common want for your private gain. Do not become a dealer in human misery. Do not try to make money out of the anger of God. You with your eyes ever on money, do you never take a look at your fellow man? You know well the face of a coin, and you can tell a true from a false one, but you know not your brother in his time of need.” [Ib., III:328, § 3.]
There is no sin in wealth but there is a sin in being a stingy, self-centered miser, blinded of thy neighbor in need. There is also a sin of trusting in oneself more than the Creator. In the parable of the talents our Lord tells us to invest wisely. If we can be entrusted with wealth and use some of that wealth to care for the folks in need, He will increase us. (Matthew 25:14-30) After all, everything that is, is His!!
The Apostle Luke directs us in this way: “Cease being afraid, little flock, for your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom. “Sell your possessions and give alms. Make for yourselves purses which do not become old, an unfailing treasure in the heavens, where no thief draweth near nor moth destroyeth; “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” [Lk. 12:32-34]
Are you building a much bigger barn and if so, when is enough, enough? Let me end with this reflection from St. Theophan the Recluse: “Refuse to listen to the devil when he whispers to you: give me now, and you will give tomorrow to God. No, no! Spend all the hours of your life in a way pleasing to God; keep in your mind the thought that after the present hour you will not be given another and that you will have to render a strict account for every minute of this present hour.” (St. Theophan the Recluse and St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain- Unseen Warfare)