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How Much Is Enough?
How do we define an abundant life? Is it by how much we have? Do we define it in comparison or contrast to what others have? Too often, our definition of an abundant life keeps us turned inward because it is characterized by the amount of money we have in the bank, the number of friends by our side, or gadgets in our pocket.
Consider this: the total U.S. revolving debt (98 percent of which is credit card debt) as of January 2011 was $795.5 billion, according to the Federal Reserve’s G.19 report on consumer credit. While the implications of the G.19 report may be hotly debated, what it does tell us is that U.S. citizens, in general, like to spend. Then again, we don’t need a report to tell us what we already know. That’s the case for most people who live in any first-world country. Take a walk through your house, apartment, or condominium and try to assess whether you have what you need or whether you have far more than necessary. Do you have children? How many toys do they have? How many of those toys go untouched or overlooked because they have so many? Ask a person whose family has moved recently and you will likely find someone who will, if they are being honest, be forced to admit that they own too much stuff. Nothing puts the concepts of needs versus wants or having enough versus having too much into perspective quite like moving from one home to another.
Today’s readings provide us an opportunity to redefine what constitutes an abundant life. Each reading orients our perspective outward and gives us pause to consider the correlation between an abundant life and a life lived in faithful relationship to God.
Gospel: Luke 17:11-19
A Samaritan leper becomes a model for thanksgiving. He does not take for granted the kindness shown to him but takes time to thank Jesus and to glorify God.
11On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”