Saint for the day: Ignatius of Antioch (50 – c.107)
Ephesians 2:1-10 – Psalm 100 – Luke 12:13-21
Today’s “Reflection” is archived from 2014 but I thought it was a good one and worth getting a second run. I hope that it blesses you as much as it has blessed me.
“Jesus said to the crowd, ‘Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich one’s life does not consist of possessions.’” (Luke 2:3)
After selecting the above quote from today’s Holy Gospel, I’ve found myself stymied – almost as if these words were being directly aimed at me. It got me thinking about what are my greatest gifts and what do I do with the blessings – both material and spiritual – that come into my life? If I look back to the time when I first entered the Dominicans – 57 years ago – I can’t help but think how I didn’t even have my own suitcase and had to scrounge around our house to find one that I could pack my stuff in. I think I even used a couple of brown shopping bags telling my mother, “I think they take a vow of poverty and any time I’ve seen one of them they’re just dressed in the white Dominican habit!” Somewhere along the line I must have started to move beyond the one suitcase, two brown shopping bags so that by the time I was on my way to Africa in 2005 I left 39 boxes of my “stuff” in the attic of the House of Studies in Oakland! And, if I’m honest, I have to say that I was quite upset when I found out that one of those boxes, that were all numbered, turned up missing! The odd fact was that I wasn’t even sure what was in that missing box! I think that the bottom line in today’s Liturgy isn’t so much about what are our possessions but, rather, what possesses us. Jesus says, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” (Luke 12:15) Even after highlighting this quote, I get some consolation from the fact that I can bring out my collection of old Dominican publications – newsletters and such – that the friars can enjoy looking at while making all kinds of comments like, “That can’t be you?” Years ago, when Brother Robert Lavigne died the Prior asked me to sort out his room, which was loaded, wall-to-wall, with “memorabilia” of Brother Robert’s long years of service to the Order. We decided to pack up all these “trinkets” and put them on display at his wake and invite his friends to take one item as a reminder to pray for Brother Robert’s journey to the Kingdom. It was a great way to honor a very special brother to all of us and I’m sure that he would have wanted us to do something like that with all the “stuff” he collected over the years. In the end he was buried in a simple coffin with his 15 decade rosary wrapped around his hands. There were a couple of other things that caught my attention when I first went into his room that day he died: his bed was neatly made with a crucifix resting on the pillow. There was a note on his desk that read: “Here is a list of people who might want to be notified in the even of my death. Imagine? What do you think he sensed? There was also a small bag with a bottle of Jim Beam Bourbon and another note that said, “this should be taken to Brother Daniel’s “jubilee party” at McKenzie Bridge.” This was indeed a brother who – even though his room was crammed full of “fifty-plus years” of stuff – knew that he couldn’t take it with him! I hope and pray that I can be as free as he was. “Brother Robert: pray for all of us still stuck in this world and help us to be as free and holy as you are. Amen!