Reflection for Sunday – July 31, 2022

Readings: Ecclesiastes 1: 2, 2: 21-23; Colossians 3: 1-5, 9-11; Luke 12: 13-21 
Preacher: Nancy DeRycke

“NOW” is a very important word. 

I remember a poster:  “Do it now.”  And a Lenten song in college:  “Love them now…don’t wait ‘til they go away; love them now, while they’re still around…”

We all may have regrets about questions (a favorite recipe…a family event… how to do something…etc.) that we never asked or words we never said (I’m sorry…I love you…I forgive you….) to a loved one before they died.

When my Mom went into the hospital for what they said was very minor diverticulitis, I used part of the time she was in to clean her house and get all her things tidied so she’d be able to relax when she got home.  When she suddenly took a turn for the worse and died from an undetected tumor, I spent a long time trying to reconcile the fact that I had wasted time taking care of her things when I could have spent more time with her in the hospital before she was gone. 

This is a stunning and still stinging example, but I think Jesus uses the same kind of story today to illustrate a plea to look at our priorities and “Do it Now.”

Whether it is our possessions or time, it’s not just the having things (although we may need to look at how much more we have than we truly need).  It’s more the place that things/time/whatever have in our lives.  If we keep them to ourselves and don’t share when someone really needs them, maybe something needs attention.

Even if I have everything I ever wanted in my closet, in my home, in my garage, in my life, I’ll find there is still something missing.  Quoeheleth (1st reading) warns that stuff we have may be all in vain (Vanity of Vanities).  I think we can substitute the word “emptiness.”  Everything is empty if we aren’t focused on what matters in our journey with God.

That’s the bottom line.  Paul says to quit our fighting, cheating and lying, because it’s usually over things.  If we are all one in Christ, everything changes:  there should no longer be differences among us (Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, Democrat or Republican, etc.).  We let the smallness in us die; we’re not meant to live for ourselves.  He puts it that we’re supposed to focus on things of heaven, not of earth (a little gnostic dualism creeps in here (i.e., flesh=bad; spirit=good)).  For him, Heaven meant living generously for all (like Jesus’ open arms on the cross); Earth was a dark side of living clutching everything to ourselves.

I don’t know about you, but when I have tried to save things, it never works. 

  • Food spoils, or doesn’t taste as good as when it’s shared anyway.
  •  Clothing doesn’t fit as well as it did or goes out of style.
  • Time gets frittered away.
  •  Even grudges get old and people get tired of hearing our complaints.

What’s in your “barn?”  More stuff bought without thinking or money or friends or complaints or resentments or burdens or free time?  Or is there a hope for justice that “I’ll do someday?”  What matters is not what I have, but how I use what I have now to make the world better, especially for those in need. 

We don’t have to run ourselves ragged thinking of more to do.  But if we do some good now, we may have less to weigh us down with a list of “someday.” Generosity makes us free to live with fewer regrets of what we wish we had made time for.

What have you and I been putting off?  Do it now.  As today’s Psalm says:  “If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your heart!”

Nancy DeRycke
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