“I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built. But the one who listens and does not act is like a person who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed.”
I don’t like getting pennies. They are annoying. So I either drop them in some donation box near the cash register or I just drop them on the ground as I walk out the door. I never really thought about it much, but this morning something dawned on me. Those pennies have been circulating for years. They have touched thousands, maybe millions of hands! Some of them spent months in a piggy bank until they finally were removed by tiny hands to purchase tiny items. And when they fell into my hands, I simply took them and threw them away.
I’m not getting all sentimental on you now. I’m just meditating, and meditating brings out the very best and worst in all of us. Of course I am not advocating that we become hoarders! No!!! But what I am saying is that we need to hold dear to our hearts the precious treasures that have come into our lives; and our Church (our faith) is one dear treasure that needs to be respected, revered and honored. Otherwise, it will inevitably (at best) or intentionally (at worst) fall through my fingers. I will deny my children and their children the blessings of solid and hallowed ground! I will also allow others to give them something far worse than what I could have given them.
Here are some things I recently learned from my pennies and today's Gospel passage.
With regards to fanaticism: Not too long ago I had dinner with a family that was lamenting the fact that their son will not baptize their baby. The man has decided to not force any religion on his child. The child, he says, will be allowed to choose his own religion. I told them the story of John Walker Lindh, one of the first American born Taliban fighters who was found and arrested on treason in Afghanistan. His parents thought the same way too - let him choose what religion he wants to believe in. Sounds very democratic, but the reality is that if parents do not teach their children the faith, someone else will do it for them, and it may not be at all what they expected. No one learns anything on their own. We all learn from others.
With regards to Protestantism: The Holy Father will be visiting Germany near the end of September. He will be visiting the city of Erfurt and the monastery where Martin Luther lived before he started what would become the Protestant Reformation. The city is the least religious part of Germany by far! This is his legacy. This is the story of most of Protestant Europe – it is by far the least religious part of Europe!
With regards to Relativism: In a speech welcoming Britain’s new ambassador to the Holy See, the Holy Father said: “When policies do not presume or promote objective values, the resulting moral relativism, instead of leading to a society that is free, fair, just and compassionate, tends instead to produce frustration, despair, selfishness and a disregard for the life and liberty of others.” In light of this past summer’s ferocious riots, and the mean spirited youth that participated in it, we can only hope and pray that the ambassador and someone in England was listening.
With regards to the Commercialism: It appears as though the Celtic Tiger (Ireland) is dead. Its economic situation is worse than the potato famine of old. At least, back then, they knew how to plant. So what is happening? Young people are killing themselves at a record pace. What used to be a very Catholic nation has become a very different nation with no past and no future. They have turned their living faith into tombstones. They threw out the baby with the dirty bath water, and the babies are dying from neglect.
How sad it all is.
I won’t be throwing away any more pennies. Regardless of how small they are, they have withstood the test of time, maintained their value and, when gathered together, have unforeseen buying power. They are also a wonderful reminder of who to put our trust in.