This evening, I enjoyed watching part of the movie, "Anna and the King," based upon the 1944 novel, Anna and the King of Siam, drawn loosely from the diaries of Mrs. Anna Leonowens, an English tutor to the children of the king of Siam (now Thailand). One of my favorite scenes is the banquet given for the visiting British ambassador. The sheer opulence, grand scale, and overwhelming beauty of the outdoor candlelit feast are utterly breathtaking! I marveled at the depth of the wealth and comfort available to the king of Siam and the British upper class.
I thought how vastly distant it was from my own ordinary existence.
Then, I went into my kitchen and, without thinking, turned on my Keurig machine from Massachusetts and in three minutes had a cup of hot tea -- in a cup made in Italy, with tea leaves from India, sugar from Brazil, and cream from Florida, which I stirred with a silver spoon from Sheffield, England and sipped down scalding hot while eating fresh raspberries from California. All within the comfort and privacy of my own comfortably air-conditioned home.
Now, who's wealthy? Materially, that is.
Often, I'll remind my children that, as Americans, in general, we are fortunate to live a more affluent lifestyle than roughly 93% of the world's population. Or are we? Fortunate, that is. With great wealth comes great responsibility. "Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more." (Luke 12:48b)
We have more. Are we giving more? As a country, I would argue yes. As an individual, that's entirely up to each of us.
While visiting the United States, Mother Teresa was asked why our country had so few religious vocations. It was said she paused thoughtfully, then replied, "You have too much."
Mother Teresa went on to say on another occasion,
more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less
you have, the more free you are. Poverty for us [the Missionaries of Charity] is a freedom. It is not
mortification, a penance. It is joyful freedom. There is no television here, no this, no that. But we
are perfectly happy."
I am first in the line of those who need to be less preoccupied with material things and more focused on spiritual things from above. For while I'm certain God isn't displeased with the security and comfort both my husband and I work hard to provide for our young family, I'm equally certain (and rather embarrassed before Him) that He's not entirely pleased with the low spot on my daily To Do List to which I hastily and frequently relegate "my" time for prayer, adoration, Mass, or just sitting quietly with HIM.
Just as my material blessings are not entirely my own (just ask Job), so too are neither my time nor my spiritual blessings solely my own either. Remember? God put us on this Earth, "to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven."
Whatever we have at our disposal, whether it be material wealth and comfort or spiritual gifts, we are meant to put these things at God's disposal, allowing them to be used as HE sees fit...which may not necessarily be as WE see fit.
Take a few moments this Sunday. Take a step back. Look at what you have. Evaluate how you can make yourself, your soul, your time, your actions, and your blessings be even more of a blessing to those around you.
- Pray specifically for someone.
- Stop to pray one extra time today.
- Put another dollar in the collection basket.
- Give your child an extra hug just because you love him.
- Make that casserole you've been meaning to make for your elderly, pregnant, or ill neighbor or friend.
- Donate a few extra belongings to your local thrift shop.
- Finish the dishes, then go laugh in the sprinkler with your younger children, or sit down to laugh and play cards with the older ones.
- Look up who the Saint Of The Day is. Read for two minutes about that person.
- Pick up the phone and graciously call that relative or friend with whom you've had recent or long-standing difficulty.
- Cut that check you've been mulling over! Add an extra zero before the decimal point and mail it out Monday to your church, your local pregnancy center, or whichever charity inspires you.
Remember, "Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure,
packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your
lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured
out to you." (Luke 6:38)
And, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, and see if I do not open the floodgates of heaven for you, and pour down upon you blessing without measure!" (Malachi 3:10)
(As an added bonus, read this beautiful treatise on, "Stewardship: A Discipleship of Love," by Bishop Victor B. Galeone, formerly of the Diocese of St. Augustine, FL.).