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Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 17, 2022
person walking dog on a bridgePhoto via Unsplash.

A Reflection for Monday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Find today’s readings here.

Then he said to the crowd,
‘Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one’s life does not consist of possessions.’” (Lk 12:15)

It’s cliche these days to rail against social media, but allow me one more go at it.

A scroll through Instagram seems almost certain to result in some kind of envy. Curated shots of our friends and family at their best are interspersed with staged images and videos of beautiful people living life to the fullest. After a while, when the scrolling trance breaks, I’m sometimes left wondering, why aren’t I vacationing in Palm Springs? Cooking a fabulous meal with my new state-of-the-art cookware? Sporting the latest pair of trendy trousers?

In other words, the onslaught of ads and images has caused me to want frivolous things that deep down, I know I don’t really need.

That feeling, that I don’t have enough, runs contrary to Jesus’s words in Luke’s Gospel today:

“Take care to guard against all greed.”

Sometimes, that’s easier said than done.

Walking outside costs nothing, but at the end of my walks with my dog, I certainly feel fulfilled.

Many of us are fortunate to live with material abundance, at least compared to previous generations and to other places in the world today. But the Gospel reminds us that material things, or even financial wealth, will not make us happy, will not fulfill our deepest yearnings.

As Jesus says, “for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

People who can afford basic necessities tend to be happier than those who cannot. That’s just common sense. But beyond that, focusing on money just doesn’t seem to bring human beings much joy.

I’ve been thinking about this lately, especially during the daily walks I take with my dog. Strolling along Chicago’s lakefront, spending 40 minutes in nature, it costs nothing, aside from the handful of dog treats I expend trying to get Wibby to keep pace. And she couldn’t be happier, smelling new odors, rolling around in the grass. As for me, I’m outside, away from my desk, taking note of the colorful leaves, the anthills that have suddenly appeared everywhere, and even the different populations of birds that move along with the change in seasons. Walking outside costs nothing, but at the end of them, I certainly feel fulfilled.

Passing on a kind word to a friend. Showing up to a celebration. Checking in a sick loved one. These things don’t count as possessions and they have no monetary value. Yet they will make us far richer—and happier—than anything being shown to me in a targeted Instagram post.

More: Scripture

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