USE YOUR GOLD

A miser hid his gold at the foot of a tree in his garden. Every week he would dig it up and look at it for hours. One day a thief dug up the gold and made off with it. When the miser next came to gaze upon his treasure, all he found was an empty hole.

The man began to howl with grief so his neighbors came running to find out what the trouble was. When they found out, one of them asked, “Did you use any of the gold?”

“No,” said the miser. “I only looked at it every week.”

“Well, then.” said the neighbor, “for all the good the gold did you, you might just as well come her every week and gaze upon the hole.”

Source |  Anthony De Mello, SJ | The Heart of the Enlightened,
Doubleday,1989) page 20

CONSIDER THIS

It is not by our money but by our capacity for enjoyment that we are rich or poor. To strive for wealth and have no capacity for enjoyment is to be like the bald man who struggles to collect combs.

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Here’s a slightly different version

Once upon a time there was a wealthy miser who melted down his hoard of gold into a single lump which he then secretly buried in his garden. every day he went to look at it, and would spend hours gloating over it.

Then one of his servants discovered his secret, and came by night and stole the gold. when the miser discovered that his treasure had been stolen, he was heart-broken.

But a friend said to him. “Don’t take it so badly. Just put a brick on the hole, and take a look at it every day. You won’t be any worse off than before, for even when you had the gold you never used it.”

All of us bury some talent which we refuse to use either for our own benefit of for the benefit of others. And what us buried is of no earthly use to anyone.

Source | Flor McCarthy SDB, New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies
(Dominican Publications, 1998) pages 346-347

MISTAKING THE GOOD FOR THE BEST

Herman closed the front door gently, took off his coat, and hung it in the closet. He unzipped his overshoes, first one and then the other, slid them off, and bent down to put them in the closet. There a wild jumble of boots and rubbers confronted him. Muttering under his breath, he began to sort them out and arrange them two by two. Then he carefully placed his own side by side in the last square inch of space and tried to close the door. It would not close. A parka that had been jammed in hurriedly was blocking the door. Herman methodically rearranged the coats and jackets and sweaters. Then he closed the door gently.

For one flashing second he thought, “Why didn’t I just slam that door? Why didn’t I just throw my overshoes in on top of the heap like everybody else does?” But it was only a momentary spasm. “One just does not do things that way,” he said to himself.

The house was strangely quiet. The cat meowed plaintively and rubbed against his leg. He stooped over and patted her.

“Hello, Mrs. Beasley.”

Funny name for a cat, but Tammy had insisted on calling her Mrs. Beasley after she’d seen a television doll commercial. A ridiculous name for a cat really.

“I wanted to call her Whiskers or Tabby, but Tammy insisted on Mrs. Beasley,”   Herman recalled, smiling to himself. “Mrs. Beasley.”

The cat followed him to the refrigerator. He poured some milk into her dish and opened a new can of cat food.

“Where is everybody?” he asked the cat as he spooned out food into her dish. Then Herman closed the refrigerator door gently.

“Last minute shopping, I guess.”

He mused about it as he went upstairs to take off his clothes.

“Lorraine is always shopping at the last minute. Well, not always, but a good bit of the time. Probably wieners and beans for dinner tonight.”

He was mildly irritated. The bedroom was a shambles. Lorraine’s slacks and blouse were thrown on the bed. The closet doors were flung open. A dress hung askew on a crooked hanger. Her shoes had obviously been quickly rummaged through. He sighed and opened the closet door gently. He hung his suit away, then carried his shirt to the clothes hamper in the bathroom. He had to push Tammy’s sneakers off the mat as he hung up her towel. He scooped up her play clothes and crammed them together with his shirt into the hamper.

“Life would be so much easier if people would just take a little time to be more tidy. It would make my job easier too,” he thought as he ran water into the sink.

He had to plan his day. This was Herman’s way – the only way he could manage to retain any semblance of sanity. Then inevitably somebody came along and disrupted his plans. Suddenly a great weariness came over him. As he leaned on his hands in the water, random thoughts begin to flicker through his mind like fragments of a ragged film running through a broken projector. Would the company expand or relocate? Maybe we will have to move. Jennings would sure like my job – he is a manipulator. The house needs painting. The living room rug is pretty worn. Has the washing machine been repaired? Wonder how much it was? Tammy’s tooth is loose; maybe it will drop out. Jennings has just built a new house. His payments must be very steep—no wonder he wants my job. At least Lorraine sews her own clothes; that is a help. We have got to throw a party soon—there are lots of invitations to pay back. Oh, the pledge card from the church, it has just come. Got to get the car winterized; should have it sanded and painted if l am going to drive it another year. I wonder if we will get any tax breaks this year? Didn’t get anything done today like I planned. That dumb Jennings—he messed up my whole afternoon—had to drop everything and go to a special session to consider his harebrained plans. He seems to think he is the only idea man in the company. How do they expect me to get my work done with all these interruptions?

He dressed and closed his closet door gently. He picked up Lorraine’s slacks and blouse and hung them away. “Poor girl! I know she gets fed up with her daily routines. Breakfast, cleaning, getting Tammy off to kindergarten, cooking, washing, ironing. I know she would like to get out. At least I see grown people every day. This house must be like a prison to her.” He closed her closet door gently and went downstairs. Mrs. Beasley rubbed his leg and he picked her up.

“Six o’clock—wherever could they be?”

He started to sort through the mail, and it was then that he saw the note. ”

“Herman, we waited until almost five for you and then just had to leave. Please get a cab and join us. You missed Tammy’s birthday party last year: Try not to miss it again this year. Lorraine! ”

Tammy’s birthday party. At a restaurant that caters such things. They had planned it together. He had been a little reluctant at first, but okay, the sixth birthday is a milestone, and he could see Tammy that very morning saying, “Daddy, you’ll be there, won’t you?” and he had given her a big hug.

He looked at the clock, and it said 6:15. Somewhere in his soul, Herman heard a door slam shut. The kingdom of heaven, so it is said, is like the time a man received an invitation—even conscientious Hermans can miss the party because they mistake the good for the best.

Source | Edward Richard Riegert,
in The Lutheran Quarterly, vol 16 (February 1974)

Quoted in
John Claypool, Stories Jesus Still Tells
(Cowley Publications, 2007) pages 63-66

CONSIDER THIS

  • Are you paying attention to what really matters in life?
  • Where are you investing the precious gift of time? In urgencies and emergencies? In important things? Or in what is essential?

THE GIFT OF THE POOR

Pedro Arrupe tells of visiting his brother Jesuits who were working in a desperately poor slum in Latin America. During his visit he celebrated Mass for the local people in a small, decrepit building; cats and dogs wandered in and out during the Mass. Afterward,  Arrupe was invited to the house of one of the members of the congregation and received an unexpected gift.

Here’s what happened after Mass, in Arrupe’s own words:

When it was over, a big devil whose hang-dog look made me almost afraid said, “Come to my place. I have something to give you.” I was undecided; I didn’t know whether to accept or not, but the priest who was with me said, “Accept, Father, they are good people.” I went to his place; his house was a hovel nearly on the point of collapsing. He had me sit down on a rickety old chair. From there I could see the sunset. The big man said to me, “Look, sir, how beautiful it is!” We sat in silence for several minutes. The sun disappeared. The man then said, “I didn’t know how to thank you for all you have done for us. I have nothing to give you, but I thought you would like to see this sunset. You liked it, didn’t you? Good evening.” And then he shook my hand.

As I walked away I though, “I have seldom met such a kindhearted person.” I was strolling along that lane when a poorly dressed woman came up to me; she kissed my hand, looked at me, and with a voice filled with emotion said, “Father, pray for me and my children. I was at that beautiful Mass you celebrated. I must hurry home. But I have nothing to give my children. Pray to the Lord for me; he’s the one who must help us.” And she disappeared running in the direction of her home.

Many indeed are the things I learned thanks to that Mass among the poor. What a contrast with the great gatherings of the powerful of this world.

Source | Pedro Arrupe, One Jesuit’s Spiritual Journey: Autobiographical Conversations with Jean-Claude Dietsch SJ
Also told in James Martin, The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything, pages 211-212
and James Martin, My Life with the Saints, pages 107-108

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • There are those who have everything and daily miss the sunset and the many other blessings that companion us day by day.
  • There are those who have nothing and daily embrace the sunset as a precious gift from above that sustains us.

BEYOND ADORATION

A story told my cardinal Martini SJ, has to do with an Italian couple that’s getting married. They have an arrange­ment with the parish priest to have a little reception in the parish courtyard outside the church. But it rained, and they couldn’t have the reception, so they said to the priest, “Would it be all right if we had the celebration in the church?”

Now father wasn’t one bit happy about having a recep­tion in the church, but they said, “We will eat a little cake, sing a little song, drink a little wine, and then go home.” So father was persuaded. But being good life-loving Italians they drank a little wine, sang a little song, then drank a little more wine, and sang some more songs, and within a half hour there was a great celebration going on in the church. And everybody was having a great time, lots of fun and frolic. But father was all tense, pacing up and down in the sacristy, all upset about the noise they were making. The assistant pastor comes in and says, “I see you are quite tense”.

“Of course, I’m tense. Listen to all the noise they are making, and in the House of God!, for heaven’s sake!”

“Well, Father, they really had no place to go.”

“I know that! But do they have to make all that racket?”

“Well, we mustn’t forget, must we, father, that Jesus himself was once present at a wedding!”

Father says, “I know Jesus Christ was present at a wed­ding banquet, you don’t have to tell me Jesus Christ was present at a wedding banquet! But they didn’t have the Blessed Sacrament there!”

Source | Anthony de Mello,  Awareness. Page 65 ff

PONDER AND CONSIDER

You know there are times like that when the Blessed Sacrament becomes more important than Jesus Christ. When worship becomes more important than love, when the Church becomes more important than life. When God becomes more important than the neighbor. And so it goes on. That’s the danger. To my mind this is what Jesus was evidently calling us to – first things first! The human being is much more important than the Sabbath.

AND GOD WEPT

There once was a hard working farmer who fell upon the greatest of gifts.

The Lord appeared to this farmer and granted him three wishes, but with the condition that whatever the Lord did for the farmer would be given double to his neighbour.

The farmer, scarcely believing his good fortune, wished for a hundred cattle. Immediately he received a hundred cattle and was overjoyed until he saw that his neighbor had two hundred. So he wished for a hundred acres of land, and again he was filled with joy until he saw that his neighbor had two hundred acres of land.

Rather than celebrating God’s goodness, the farmer could not escape feeling jealous and slighted because his neighbour had received more than he. Finally he stated his third wish: that God would strike him blind in one eye.

And God wept.

Source | This is a Jewish story as told by Allan Culpepper

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • Jealousy can blind you, no pun intended!
  • Celebration can open your eyes and makes you see and know what you have never seen and known before.