We welcome again today Father Paul Wharton to the Community of Catholic Bloggers. Fr Paul manages a great Blog/Website which I urge you to visit (link below).
Here's what Fr Paul has to say:
POSSESSING or POSSESSED
Years ago a Hasidic Rabbi reached the outskirts of the village and settled down under a tree for the night when a villager came running up to him and said, "The stone! The stone! Give me the precious stone!" "What stone?" asked the holy man. "Last night an angel appeared to me in a dream," said the villager, "And told me that if I went to the outskirts of the village at dusk I should find a holy man who would give me a precious stone that would make me rich forever."
The rabbi rummaged in his bag and pulled out a stone. "He probably meant this one," he said, as he handed the stone over to the villager. "I found it on a forest path some days ago. You can certainly have it." The man gazed at the stone in wonder. It was a diamond, possibly the largest diamond in the whole world.
He took the diamond and walked away. All night he tossed about in bed, unable to sleep. The next day at the crack of dawn, he woke the rabbi and said, "Now, please, please give me whatever it is that enables you to give this diamond away so easily."
Ever since the rich, young man in the gospels many Christians of all times and places have had to deal with the question of how much is too much? That rich man became the only person mentioned in the gospels that actually turned his back on Jesus and walked away. Why? Jesus asked him to sell everything he had and give to the poor.
Not every Christian is asked to give away everything. But everyone needs to consider this question: “Do we possess our possessions or do they possess us?” Someone has observed that in this age of consumerism we buy things we don't need, with money we don't have, to impress people we don't like.
Not every Christian is asked to sell everything and give to the poor. But every Christian has the absolute obligation to charity. St. Basil the Great, wrote these challenging words: “The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor.”
Ouch! Now I don’t think that we need to limit our wardrobes to one only one or two outfits. But how many of us have clothes in our closets that we haven’t worn in years and may never wear again? Many of us have lots of things that we just had to have – a bike, a car, a piece of jewelry, a home entertainment system, etc – believing that when we got what we wanted we would be happy. But such happiness is quite fleeting.
Go through your closets. Give away what clothes you haven’t worn in years or won’t consider wearing because they are out of style. Consider having a yard sale and giving the proceeds to a Food Pantry.
I have conducted hundreds of funerals and attended too many others to count. I never saw a moving van following the hearse to the grave. In the end, the only thing that really matters is our relationship with God. (That is how and why that Rabbi could give away the diamond.) Charitable giving is an essential part of that relationship. We give time, talent and treasure away as a sign of our faith in and love for God.
[Father Paul Wharton has been a priest in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston (
) for 29 years. He has a blog on spirituality entitled “Hearts on Fire” that can be located here: http://heartsonfire33.wordpress.com. In it he shares stories, poems, prayers, videos, songs, scriptures, quotations, etc. in the hopes something a viewer reads may kindle his or her heart as happened with the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. Hearts on Fire also includes suggested reading – articles and books – as well as some of his own writing and recent homilies he has preached.] West Virginia