…I shall die a pauper….
Oh, don’t look so shocked…it’s a fact.
There was once a time in my youth when I pursued women and fame….and later I pursued riches and wealth the way lovers court each other…and yet here I am today…penniless…devoid of goods…but richer than Midas himself…
How did I come to such a pass? Let me explain…
I gave all of it up…let it all slip away…and to some who would have it I am as daft as a fiddler on the roof.
See, I had my eyes opened, I saw what it was doing to me. No, not in the way you are thinking about, but in ANOTHER way. I was gaining money, fame, power, influence, goods, friends….yes, all the things people strive for. I had a 3 bedroom house, 11 acres of land, cars, a fat bank account, and everything a man could want or need..and yet here I am now…penniless, without those who professed to be my friends, deserted by family and friends alike. The only goods I now own are a simple robe, a simple rope belt, a Bible, and a Rosary…
The money taken, the land taken, the house taken…yes..or the goods given away so that another who needed them more benefits from them.
When I took my vows I abandoned all things of this world…for I found something MORE precious than gold or goods…I found people MORE worth loving and being with that simple sycophants clinging to me because I could further their goals..I found PEACE.
The tale of Scrooge is WAY to close to home with me always at this time of year…a man who had everything and yet did nothing of value with it…
Some would say I have lost leave of my senses in giving up all I had in order to serve the world in my Master’s name…I say I CAME TO MY SENSES in doing so…
It occurred to me what I was doing, you see…I was benefiting from my gain, sure, but was anyone ELSE gaining from my gain…anyone who NEEDED, not WANTED? No..I had goods, but what good were they? Did they benefit those less fortunate? Did they save lives? Did they help anyone other than myself? No..sadly…no…
I must confess the words of my Master came with all too much clarity to me when I took the cowl…
I was looking at my own mortality, you see…some say far too early to think on such things, given my age at the time, but when the doctor gave me “The Long Face” it hammered home that I had WASTED all those years…yes…frittered them away like sand through a glass.
I HAD to find a LEGACY..something that would last BEYOND my years….some bit of me that in decades to come when I was gone people could point and say “There was a man…a good man”….not “Who? Who was he?”.
I was looking towards what happened, or WOULD happen to me AFTER. Was I going ‘there’? or THERE…(get it?)…
Was I a ‘Good Man’? I like to think I was..I like to think I was ‘Ok’…in that I did not push old women under buses and kick puppies..but was I a GOOD man…no…no I was not.
I was chasing all the WRONG things, you see.
“Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.” -Matthew 19:16-22
I knew once I looked into my heart of hearts there was so much MORE I could be doing…so, I gave away my goods..(GASP!)…yes, what goods I had left…gave them away…for something I read hit me harder than a blacksmith’s hammer on white-hot iron….
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;…” -Matthew 6:19-20
EVERYTHING I had..house…goods..money…ALL, I realized, could (and WERE) taken from me in the space of a heartbeat. I was left without ANYTHING that this world considers valuable…I had nothing…and yet, from nothing I have gained EVERYTHING.
All the friends I thought WERE my friends faded away with the stroke of pen on paper…all the money sapped from the bank like so much water down a drain..the goods, gone in an instant..
I was left alone, penniless, and empty handed…and I struggled..oh yes..I struggled so hard just to make ends meet..food on the table, bills, roof over my head in some hovel. It was in this time I realized there had to be something MORE…something out there WORTH the having. I turned to Theology and Philosophy and tried to understand this void. It came to me one day when my friend (actually, a man I barely knew, but who made such an impact!) took his own life..and I changed. I realized what TRULY mattered…was it goods? Clothes? A fine house? ..no..
“Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.
For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.
Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life ?
Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!
And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.
For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.
But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” -Luke 12:22-34
I see Christians who are more of “The Pagan World”…who pursue riches of gold, houses, land..etc..instead of doing what they SHOULD…helping the poor, the downtrodden, the sick…they cannot throw a small handful of money at the problem and say “I have done my part”…no…nor can they serve a supper one day a year at some charity and say “I have fed the poor”…
See, I ABANDONED the world, and serve FULL TIME..not part time or seasonal.
I am not saying for everyone to give up everything and do as I do…(that would flood the market and then EVERYONE would be happy… 😀 ) I am saying consider how much you have, how much you NEED, and what you can do without so that others may simple exist.
For what you have in just one drawer in your dresser MANY would gladly give all THEY had to own on a cold night out on the street. The shelves of tinned food in your cupboard mark YOUR eating…but what about those who would gladly sell their own blood in some bloodbank simply to have a hot meal.?
This time of year is the most crucial in a soul…to give without thought of cost, of recompense ..THAT is TRUE wealth..THAT is what will store up your treasure in Heaven.
While I cannot give any goods, I gladly give of my time to those who need…and while I cannot feed every poor person I see, I CAN feed the ones I am near…and while I cannot clothe them all, but I can clothe one…
I will die a pauper HERE…but should I be worthy, and allowed to enter into my Master’s presence and Kingdom, I should like to fancy I will have a life I sought with such earnestness in my youth. One where my cup was never empty, my plate always full, and my heart at ease.
Can you say the same?
Would you do as I do and go into your cupboard take out what canned or dry goods are there and give to those with their hands out in this cold?
Would you empty what pennies you find into the waiting cup of someone who has not 2 pennies to rub together?
Would you sacrifice your time to help someone just simply make it through another day even if it meant skipping a meal, or time with your family?
I am sure if you went into your closets, or cupboards, and really LOOKED..not with your eyes, but with your heart…you would see a TROVE of things you can give to help those who need during this time of cold and want.
Remember: my Master was born in a stable, with nothing but the blanket He was wrapped in…owned no property, nor goods, died a pauper…and yet is King of All Heaven and Earth…
Raise your eyes and see….open your heart and feel…and then open your hands and give…
For I will die a pauper, but I will be mourned as a MAN…one whom the world will not see the like of again..for my Master made but one of me…unless another steps up and takes the baton from my hand before I am called before His feet…
Go..go and find your treasure, not in closets or bank accounts, but in hearts…for there is where you will cease to be a pauper and be rich as kings.