I’d like to start by sharing a story with you that I heard once:
A vacationing American businessman standing on the pier of a quaint coastal fishing village in southern Mexico watched as a small boat with just one young Mexican fisherman pulled into the dock. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. Enjoying the warmth of the early afternoon sun, the American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish. "How long did it take you to catch them?" the American casually asked. "Oh, a few hours," the Mexican fisherman replied. "Why don't you stay out longer and catch more fish?" the American businessman then asked. The Mexican warmly replied, "With this I have more than enough to meet my family's needs." The businessman then became serious, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?" Responding with a smile, the Mexican fisherman answered, "I sleep late, play with my children, watch ball games, and take siesta with my wife. Sometimes in the evenings I take a stroll into the village to see my friends, play the guitar, sing a few songs..." The American businessman impatiently interrupted, "Look, I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you to be more profitable. You can start by fishing several hours longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra money, you can buy a bigger boat. With the additional income that larger boat will bring, before long you can buy a second boat, then a third one, and so on, until you have an entire fleet of fishing boats." Proud of his own sharp thinking, he excitedly elaborated a grand scheme which could bring even bigger profits, "Then, instead of selling your catch to a middleman you'll be able to sell your fish directly to the processor, or even open your own cannery. Eventually, you could control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this tiny coastal village and move to Mexico City, or possibly even Los Angeles or New York City, where you could even further expand your enterprise." Having never thought of such things, the Mexican fisherman asked, "But how long will all this take?" After a rapid mental calculation, the Harvard MBA pronounced, "Probably about 15-20 years, maybe less if you work really hard." "And then what, señor?" asked the fisherman. "Why, that's the best part!" answered the businessman with a laugh. "When the time is right, you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions." "Millions? Really? What would I do with it all?" asked the young fisherman in disbelief. The businessman boasted, "Then you could happily retire with all the money you've made. You could move to a quaint coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, play with your grandchildren, watch ball games, and take siesta with your wife. You could stroll to the village in the evenings where you could play the guitar and sing with your friends all you want." "What do you think I am doing right now?" asked the fisherman.
The question I want to share with you today and ponder is “What is the state of my soul?” “Where is my heart?”
From the story you just heard we see an example of someone who is content with their life, living from God’s provision. It contrasts with the story of the man who hoarded his goods, in the Gospel today(Luke 12.13-21), highlighting for us what greed does. I imagine he took a lot of time to collect all his crops and then to destroy and rebuild his barns, and it seems to me that it was at the exclusion of all else, including the state of his soul.
It seems to me that there is no middle ground to stand on here. The moment we become greedy for ourselves we stop being generous. This can apply to many facets of our life, not just with wealth. The moment we stop being generous with our gifts, talents, and treasures is the moment that we are taken over with greed and the moment we turn away from God. Why didn’t the man share out of the wealth he had with those in need? It would have saved him a lot of time and money.
The truth is, that any time we seek fulfillment in anything apart from God our world is incomplete without Him whom we were created for.
This reminds me of the famous quote from St.Augustine: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you O Lord.”
I watched a movie recently “The Bee Movie”. Have any of you seen it? It is an animated kids movie. It seems I watch a lot of these lately. The story is about a honey bee, Barry, who after going to college realizes he will be forever stuck in the same job at the hive. Through a series of events he meets a human and shockingly discovers that humans take the bees honey to eat. He is also shocked to discover the exploitation of bees and so decides to sue the humans. Winning the case, and now with no more demand for honey, the sudden stockpile puts every bee out of a job. As a result, without anything to pollinate them, the world’s flowers slowly begin to die out. I won’t give away any more of the story. We can see what Barry’s greed ends up leading to; death. When we are not living for what we are made for we are not content and this has an effect on us and on the world; quite a negative effect really. When we realize what our purpose is, even without initially realizing what it is, we can live out of that purpose and it brings our lives meaning and fulfillment.
I know I have to remind my self often, that I am a pilgrim on a journey on this earth. My life; being preparation for a final destination. If one day I want to live in the beauty of God it makes sense to me that anything else, besides Him, will just be a distraction! In the words of St. Paul that we hear in the second reading; “Christ is all and in all.”
So let us seek today to be generous with our lives; to open our eyes and our hearts so that we can see God in all things, drawing us to Himself, bringing life to our hearts, and our souls, and our lives.
Ecclesiastes 1.2; 2.21-23
Colossians 3.1-5, 9-11