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July 31, 2022: How Much is Enough?


An old man lived quietly and contently in a cabin in the woods. He was beloved by the people of the town. His door was always open to anyone in need; he taught generations of children the wonders of the woods and streams and pond.


One day the old man was approached by a group of businessmen. A vein of valuable copper had been discovered on his land. They wanted to buy his property. Money meant nothing to the old man; he just wanted to live in peace in his little cabin. He declined their offer. A fortune was to be made here, they argued, as well as jobs for the people in the town. But the old man would not budge. 


When people heard about the copper and the prosperity it would bring to their town, they turned on the old man. Their anger grew. They finally threatened him, “Unless you’re out of this place by sunset, we will drag you out.”


Sunset came, and the old man was still in his cabin. When the mob came to the cabin, they were met at the front door by the town’s priest. “The old man realizes he is going to die before this over,” the priest told them, “and he asked me to come out on his behalf and read you his last will and testament.”


The crowd fell silent and waited impatiently as the priest began to read from a piece of paper.


“I leave my fishing rod to you, Pete. You caught your first bass with it when you were seven.

To Jim, I leave my paint brushes to, Jim. I remember how I taught you how to paint. 

I leave my harmonica to you, Sara, grateful for all the beautiful melodies you would play on it.”


And so the list went on. The old man left his few possessions — his leather boots, his buck knife, his cooking pot, his worn Bible — to the person it would mean the most to. And one by one, the townsfolk hung their heads in shame and returned to their homes in the silence of the night.


Today’s Gospel challenges us to look at greed. How much is enough? Not that “stuff” is bad, for we all have stuff. And many items we own are important to us . . . they bring us joy, they preserve a memory, they save us time, they enable good moments with family or friends.


In a few weeks, I will be going to Canada on a canoe trip to Quetico Provincial Park (we haven’t been able to go in years due to Covid). It’s during those canoe trips that I am reminded that I own TOO MUCH stuff, that I can get by with so little.


Sometimes, we think that the stuff we have makes us who we are. This is especially true of you young people. It’s thinking that what you have, or what you wear will make you fit it, make you cool, make you popular. It never does.


Or some of you older folks get so worried about “having enough” and you continue to stack up your barns with of with money, fearing the future. We as a parish practice “tithing,” that is intentionally giving away a percentage of what is given to us. And many of you, also practice “tithing.” It’s a spiritual reality, that when intentionally give away a certain percentage of what you take in, then you will ALWAYS, always have enough. God takes care of things.


Saint Mother Teresa says, “Don’t keep adding stuff in your life, instead replace things don’t add.” For example, if you buy a new pair of shoes, then give an old pair away. If you “get this,” then give that away. Donate it.



What do you value? Here at the Parish we will be looking at our spiritual gifts in the next few months. Not the things we own, but who we are. Would people identify you as one who has honesty, authenticity, mercy, love, joy?


Jesus calls us to take inventory of our lives and of the things that “clutter” our lives. How do you want to be known? By the stuff you have? How do you want to be remembered? Evangelist Billy Graham once said, “You never see a U-hall behind a funeral hearse.” 








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