This phrase has been playing in my mind all week. I can’t get it out of my head. The thought arrived a few days ago as I was reading and pondering the Gospel text designated for today (Sunday).
We have one life.
In the lectionary passage (Luke 12: 13-21) a story is recited. It is the tale of a young man who has over-abundance produced on his land. He wonders what to do with the excess which far exceeds his needs. In the story, he decides to build bigger barns and store enough that it will last him for many years. His plan was to “eat, drink and be merry” but then, the story tells us, that night he lost his life and all his abundance of wealth amounted to nothing.
Now, I have heard this story pushed to ridiculous extremes where it has been said that it is wrong to have pensions (Social Security) or make any provision for the future. In contemporary times, that may not be the wisest course of action but I don’t wish to dwell there today.
My thoughts all focused around my phrase mentioned above — we have one life.
There is no choice about only having one life — there is no second earthly life. Furthermore, no-one knows how long that life will be. Therefore, it is really important to live that life as well as possible. In the context of the parable, I think this could be summed up as live generously.
Although the text talks about the young man having an abundance of riches. I don’t read anywhere in the passage that it was wrong for him to have these riches. This is not a parable against having riches. The parable was told to illustrate this one point, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.”
So, live that one life generously.
Generous with possessions,
generous with time,
people sharing what they have and what they are.
Currently, it grieves me to see the rise in racism and xenophobia. Sadly, this was illustrated once again by many precious lives lost in two separate shooting incidents in the last 24 hours.
As I read the reports I cannot help but link this to the message of this parable. This rise in racism and xenophobia reflects a need to be selfish, to be greedy, to not to want to share with others who may look or speak a little differently. Why is that a threat? Why not be generous? Why not open our arms and embrace all?
Perhaps, in contemporary times, this also illustrates another area where living generously is necessary — being generous with our voices. Refusing to remain silent in the face of injustice. Raising our voices for those who have no voice.
We have one life.
Don’t waste that life,
Find joy in that life,
Be generous with that life,
Make that life count.