2nd Sunday of Easter (Fr. Simham)
What will you take with you when you die?
Today I just want to concentrate on the first reading taken from the Acts of the Apostles. (Acts 4/32-35). It gives us a glimpse of the life of first-Christians around the Apostles. “The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed for his own use anything that he had, as everything they owned was held in common…………………..None of their members was ever in want, as all those who owned land or houses would sell them, and bring the money from them, to present it to the Apostles; it was then distributed to any members who might be in need.”
Now, what do you call this kind of life-style? Is it a kind of ‘Religious-socialism’ or ‘Religious- communism’? I know some of you are raising your eye-brows? And I really do not want to talk about politics or governance because that is not my concern or my field of concern. What I want to do is just to ask you a simple question. What made these people to embrace this life-style? To be more specific, what made them to be this generous, even to the point of selling everything to share it with others? Was it the knowledge that when the Lord comes (which they believed as imminent) nothing of this would come with them except the people who shared them? May be true.
I remember a play I acted in my school-days. It was titled “Those seven days” (in Telugu). It was about a rich man and his son. Rich man was really rich but he was a miser. He never spent a single penny either on himself or on others. His son and the servant in the house suffered so much because of his stinginess that they wanted to teach him a lesson. They contrive with a sooth-sayer who comes and says that the rich man was going to die in seven days. He is so troubled that his initial reaction was to enjoy as much as possible within these seven days. Asks for rich food to be prepared but he could not enjoy it because he is never used to it. Wanted to wear expensive shoes and clothes which he is not comfortable with. Son prepares an invitation for his death ceremony with him and sends it out to everyone to come to witness his death or burial. None respond to him. He throws a party with a good menu to woo some one to come and see him. No response. On the penultimate day he throws all the money, gold and jewellery on his bed and weeps that they did nothing to help him. Calls his son and servant and asks them to take all that, after all they are not going to come with him and asks them to remember him as a good man who gave them everything not as a miser. (Last day nothing happens and son reveals the truth and father is happy for teaching him a truth.)
Now let me ask you again; what made this man to be so generous? It is the realization that nothing is going to come with him when he dies. Is it not? In the same way the first-Christians who were expecting the immediate coming of our Lord Jesus Christ were thinking that nothing of their possessions were going to come with them when our Lord Jesus Christ will come to take them. Is it not true? Forget about the imminent Parousia. (I am sorry if I have hurt the sentiment of some of the readers.) Is it not true that we don’t take anything with us when we die? Then what is important is to have someone to remember us as a good person and pray for us or think of us even after we die. That is a life worth living for me. That is the life the first Christians lived. If and only if somebody can mourn for loosing us than being happy that we died is a life lived successfully. You need not agree with me. But this is what I believe.
I read about a young woman who said to a real estate agent, “why do I need a home? I was born in a hospital, educated in a college, engaged in a car, married in a hotel (sorry I prefer to type church, but that is not what this woman said). I live out of delicatessen and paper bags. I spend my mornings on the golf course, my afternoons at the bridge table and my evenings at the movies. When I die I am going to be buried at the under-taker’s. All I need is a garage.” What do you think of it?
Let me conclude with something else I read. “A young man once found a five dollars note in the street. From that time on, he never lifted his eyes when walking. In the course of years, he accumulated 29,516 buttons, 54,172 pins, 12 pennies, a bent back, and a miserly disposition. He lost the glory of sunlight, the sheen of the stars, the smiles of friends, tree blossoms in the spring, the blue skies, and the entire joy of living.”
It is not true that many people today look always to this earth for satisfaction, pleasure, wealth, and happiness, and have never lifted their heads to look at the things high above. God bless you all!
Fr. Showreelu Simham