Yes, you can take it with you

Published 7:00 am Friday, July 4, 2014

No matter how hard we try, most of us will go through some pretty mundane cycles in our lives. First, we are born. Then we begin to become aware of the world around us, and all that it promises, We age and, as boys and girls, begin to become more selective in our designs and desires.  We establish our wants and are vocal about it. Quickly, puberty is upon us and our hormones become readily apparent, if not to us, then to everyone else.

Begrudgingly, adulthood and the reality of a harsher world arrives. We seek employment, higher education, relationships, and all manner so status symbol accumulations. We get older and our earlier vigor for life begins to wane, as we reach the realization and worry about the potential that some of our lofty goals and aspirations may now be out of reach. Our disappointment at life itself may show in what we are, and what we do. Perhaps we retire. Perhaps we continue to work, just to stay “afloat”, or fill in the emptiness within. Sometimes we win. Sometimes we lose.

Then we die.

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If our lives are series of rather predictable stages, then what we do in each, leads us on to the next. As cases in point: The foundations we lay down in our childhoods will have an enormous affect upon our adulthoods. Education, societal experiences and, most especially the impact of those in charge of us children, lead us on to adulthood. Our adult motivations, or lack thereof , our attitudes towards productivity, will inevitably dictate the so-called success of our worldly status, prosperity and position. In our later years, we may be most melancholy about lives asking. “Why was I here?”

Many oldsters decry their pursuit of earthly “things” in their earlier days, particularly noting the sacrifices of relationships, as they begin to acknowledge in their increasing frailty the familiar adage, “You cannot take it with you.” Loosing friends and relatives, to their inevitable end, brings home the clear message of the short time they have on this Earth. Often, they will lament their life-long accumulations and begin to dispense once treasured collections, of “things,” to friends and relatives, yard sales and charities.

Yet, it is only partly true, this not taking our stuff with us. Of course, Mom’s diamond ring, the familiar chair, the house, that evening bowl of ice cream, the kids, the bank account, all will be stay behind. However, we can and do, take a whole lot of “stuff” with us.

God has made it clear the “things,” which matter, are carried only within the soul. They have nothing to do with the physicality of all this which surrounds us. All of the accumulation of physical things are nothing worth. We are reminded of Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees, when asked “What are the greatest of God’s Commandments?” His reply echoes to our lives and deaths: Love God and love your neighbor with heart and with all your strength.

Our treatment of humanity and the worship of our God are everything worth.

It is what we intrinsically are and, inescapably, take with us in our deaths. No, we cannot take physical things with us, to our Heavenly Father, not even a cheese sandwich. Yet, we will take our eternal selves up to Him and take our soul-full things, for his judgment.


By Fr. Jonathan Filkins