One day a fisherman was lying on a beautiful beach, with his fishing pole propped up in the sand and his solitary line cast out into the sparkling blue surf. He was enjoying the warmth of the afternoon sun and the prospect of catching a fish. About that time, a businessman came walking down the beach, trying to relieve some of the stress of his workday. He noticed the fisherman sitting on the beach and decided to find out why this fisherman was fishing instead of working harder to make a living for himself and his family. "You aren't going to catch many fish that way," said the businessman to the fisherman, "you should be working rather than lying on the beach!"
The fisherman looked up at the businessman, smiled and replied, "And what will my reward be?"
"Well, you can get bigger nets and catch more fish!" was the businessman's answer.
"And then what will my reward be?" asked the fisherman, still smiling.
The businessman replied, "You will make money and you'll be able to buy a boat, which will then result in larger catches of fish!"
"And then what will my reward be?" asked the fisherman again.
The businessman was beginning to get a little irritated with the fisherman's questions. "You can buy a bigger boat, and hire some people to work for you!" he said.
"And then what will my reward be?" repeated the fisherman.
The businessman was getting angry. "Don't you understand? You can build up a fleet of fishing boats, sail all over the world, and let all your employees catch fish for you!"
Once again the fisherman asked, "And then what will my reward be?"
The businessman was red with rage and shouted at the fisherman, "Don't you understand that you can become so rich that you will never have to work for your living again! You can spend all the rest of your days sitting on this beach, looking at the sunset. You won't have a care in the world!"
The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, "And what do you think I'm doing right now?"
Our American society is so materialistic, that it is easy for us to forget what really matters in life. To so many people, happiness depends on possessions. A beautiful house, a luxurious car, the latest in video and sound equipment, a boat, all these things become people’s goals in life. Then, if one of these items cannot be attained, if a young couple cannot get a mortgage for their dream house, if an older couple cannot retire as they expected to, if the boat a person always wanted sinks, then, for some people, life has taken a terrible turn for the worse. They become extremely sad. They no longer can have what they really wanted.
Actually, this is not just a quirk of modern American Society. The ancient Egyptians, Etruscans and others buried their stuff with them so they could take it to the nether world. In the Gospel for this Sunday a young man, probably a merchant, is called upon to leave his things to follow the Lord. This is a good man. This is someone who has tried hard to serve God. This is a man whom Jesus looks upon and loves. But he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t leave his possessions to follow the Lord. He had many possessions. Too many. He was incapable of seeing the all surmounting value of following Christ. Just as, sad to say, some people entrust the happiness of their families to their things rather to the presence of the Lord in their love for each other.
St. Gregory the Great wrote that the more we are involved in temporal things, the more that we are insensitive to the spiritual. The rich man of the gospel has a hard time entering the Kingdom of God not because he is not concerned with the Kingdom of God. He has a hard time entering the kingdom of God because he is more concerned with the Kingdom of the world. He wants a Rolls Royce so he can drive in style, but his determination for things leaves him with a life with no where to go.
What really matters in life? The Book of Wisdom, the first reading, says that the wisdom of God is all that matters. To see things as God sees them. To understand as God understands. To enjoy the fruits of creation as God means them to be enjoyed. To use our talents and gifts, our very works to come closer to God, to lead our families in love so that we are a reflection of the Holy family, this is what matters in life. You may be well off financially. You may not be well off financially. What is important is that your life revolves around the love of the Lord in and through others. This is Wisdom.
Therefore I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded and the spirit of Wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepter and throne, And deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; Because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire. Beyond health and comeliness I loved her, And I chose to have her rather than the light, because the splendor of her never yields to sleep.
Today we pray for the Wisdom of God to follow His call.