Not a question of volume

My brother in law is fond of asking others for their favorite movie line.  While I think he truly enjoys hearing others selections, I think he more enjoys declaring his own.  His comes from the 1975 Spielberg thriller Jaws: “I think we need a bigger boat!”  If you’ve seen the movie, you understand the quote and context, if you haven’t, well, you need to!  Bigger boat, bigger house, bigger car, bigger suitcase to fit my stuff – on any given day, especially in the United States, bigger still rules as better.  And while no one disputes the truth of Roy Scheider’s famous line, we are often called upon to ask ourselves if this is always true – is bigger/more better?

This Sunday’s readings have us reflecting on this question as well, especially as Jesus tells us a parable of a man who has a bumper crop and the only thing he can think to say is: “I think I need a bigger barn!”  Given that he dies that very night, we are called to reflect on the wisdom of the farmer’s approach.  Some who may take this and the other two readings on their face, may see it as merely a matter of volume:  How much is enough?  But even though the volume question is a worthy one, it is not at the heart of the matter.  The real question is how much does it matter?

The first reading has Qoheleth reminding us that all that we see around us is fleeting – you cant take it with you and it ultimately will be so much dust.  If our lives are spent in pursuit of such things, then we miss the real point of the things of our lives in the first place.  If God created it all good, and it is here for our use, it should never become an end in itself.  All matter isn’t what matters most!  Therefore, to simply pursue bigger as better focuses life on volume rather than quality.  Jesus challenge at the end of the Gospel simply states that we need to be “rich in what matters to God.”  A life spent building bigger boats and barns that don’t somehow hold what matters to God is a life misspent.

As we pursue our work this week and expect to be paid, and as we go out and purchase whatever it is that our accounts can afford, may we begin by asking ourselves more and more:  is this what matters to God?  It is a refreshing and challenging approach in life that may keep us from the jaws of materialism that can so easily consume us all.

Peace,

Fr. Mike
fr.mike@duke.edu  c. 919-316-8763 / w. 919-684-1882
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