Sunday, August 1, 2010

Happy without

The great philosopher Socrates supposedly loved going to the market.
When his students asked him about this, Socrates replied:

"I love to go and see all the things I am happy without."
When I was a kid in the elementary grades, I longed so much to own a bicycle. So I struck a deal with my dad where I would save up part of my daily allowance until I save 10% of what the bike costs. When I have saved that much, I will turn over the money to him and he will produce the remaining 90% to buy me a new bike. Eventually I did save that much money and turned it over to him, but it took quite a long, long while for my dad to keep his part of the bargain. I was so disappointed. Only after so much crying and pestering did he buy me a new bike. I understand the value of constant knocking and persistence, but I cannot understand what kept it so long. Only much later when I was already grownup did I realize that my parents were then so hard up in finances and were actually saving money for our school tuition fees. My young mind never imagined it.

In this Sunday's Gospel (Lk 12:13-21), God chastised the rich man: "this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?". Every material thing that the rich man hoarded for so long will be gone in a fleeting instant. Everything. If only he had stored up on spiritual treasures, it would have lasted for all eternity. It would take no less than an inner conversion for the rich man to change his disposition. Only when he becomes grownup spiritually can he realize that it is far easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle, and saving up for the the Kingdom is what really matters.

Today, my childhood bicycle is long gone and but a fleeting memory. On the other hand, I am now continually reaping the benefits of an education that my parents persevered to give me -- and I realize it is a gift for a lifetime that is worth so much more than the best bicycle in the world. Socrates was right, but his philosophy runs short. We can be happy without many things, because our Father wants to give us so much more than we can ever imagine.

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