Step #1: Lectio / Read
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
I remember back in high school I had this goal I set for myself. I told many people about it. I thought it was just so important, and I projected my future success in life based on whether I would achieve it. That goal I set for myself was to own a Mercedes-Benz by the time I was 35. I was sure I would achieve it. I remember contemplating at age 25 that I had a decade to get this thing done. I also remember thinking at age 30 that it was nearing the time to start looking at models.
It is very easy for us to get caught up in our quest for "things." What is it about “things” that cause us to dedicate so much thought, time and energy to obtain them and cling to them so tightly? St. Ignatius of Loyola, in his Spiritual Exercises, talked about three things people use to keep from feeling unsafe and vulnerable. They are RICHES, then HONOR, and finally PRIDE, and from these he claims stem all the other vices.
In the parable Jesus tells the crowd today, the farmer has achieved the first of St. Ignatius’ vices. He has amassed for himself the fruits of his land’s harvest. He feels secure after he toils to build even larger barns to store it all in. He feels like he can relax now, because he is safe from hunger for many years.
But the point of the parable is that storing up the riches of the world is not what matters to God. That time spent by the farmer was foolishly squandered, because little did he know that he would not be alive beyond the very night he finished his labors.
What would God rather he had done with that time, and the gifts of the harvest he enjoyed? He would have had no need of bigger barns had he shared the gift of his bounty with his neighbors.
As for me and that Mercedes; well, right about the time I figured I needed to decide what kind I wanted to own, God, who knew my true desires, tapped me on the shoulder, and invited me to grow closer to Him. He opened my heart and my eyes to the many gifts I already had in my life vastly more valuable and worthwhile of my time than that flashy car. The spiritual wealth I discovered during my journey to His church revealed that all-important high school goal of mine to be just a misguided and hollow substitute for the real riches we’re meant for. This is what is at the heart of what God truly wants us all to know.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
What are the "things" in your life that you're most attached to? What riches are you holding onto a little too tightly?
How have those things affected you, and made it more difficult to love the Lord and the people in your life?
Recall a time when God revealed to you the greatness and depth of "spiritual wealth" that He offers. How did that experience affect you and your view of life? Have you remained faithful to that inspiration? Why or why not?
What can you do to further detach yourself from the "things" in your life to and to focus more fully on the Lord as the riches of your life?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
"Make me rich in what matters to You."
"Store up treasure in heaven."
"Lord, detach my heart from the things of this world."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with Lord bear fruit in you today?
Think of one thing that you're particularly attached to... Got it? Now what can you do to let go of it a little? Resolve to take a simple step towards letting go and further unite your heart to the Lord.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Jim Lundgren, a parishioner at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Crystal Lake, IL.
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