Paul Moore: Travel light, but be sure to pack faith for the heavenly road

In My Father’s House / By Paul Thomas Moore

You never really know if you’ve packed what you need until you open your suitcase on the hotel bed. I’ll bet the International Space Station folks run into this all the time. “I’m up here for nine months and I don’t have my nail clipper!?!”

When I’m going on a weekend trip or short vacation, I find I pack many things I don’t need, and end up forgetting a crucial item or two — like a toothbrush, or sunglasses for when the road turns toward the sun.

Then there’s the road turning toward the Son of God. He tells us what we need to bring — or rather, what we don’t: “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic.” (Luke 9:3)

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB’s) daily reading commentary adds a footnote to this passage, “the absolute detachment required of the disciple . . . leads to complete reliance on God.”

MAYBE HELL IS A JUNGLE OF JUNK

Of course, when dealing with weak and inconstant human beings, complete reliance and trust are easier said than done. That’s why Jesus simplified things as much as possible. He was even willing to condense his beloved commandments for easier digestion (as with one of those large digital files my computer can’t manage until it’s “compressed”). The result was a concise compendium of faith: love God, and your neighbor as yourself.

Regarding neighbors, a number of years ago I had one who kept a neat and orderly house, though she lovingly cared for about a dozen kids who were anything but neat and orderly. I asked her how she did it. Her philosophy on policing clutter? She kept nothing under the category of, “I might need it someday.” If it wasn’t useful now or in the foreseeable, it was begone.

Perhaps the trinkets of wealth and status, not to mention resentments, jealousies and particularly the lack of forgiveness we hold onto ever so tightly here on earth stay eternally in our view, taunting us, for though we sense Heaven is near, they block out our view of the Son.

She said you could only really know if you’d thrown out enough stuff in hindsight — when you subsequently missed something. This she viewed as a sign of success, considering it much less expensive stress-wise to replace the occasional item than to live in a perpetual jungle of junk.

Maybe that’s partly what hell is like — a jungle of junk . . . and the old phrase “you can’t take it with you” is incorrect. Maybe it’s quite the opposite — not only can we take it, but we can’t get rid of it! Perhaps the trinkets of wealth and status, not to mention resentments, jealousies and particularly the lack of forgiveness we hold onto ever so tightly here on earth stay eternally in our view, taunting us, for though we sense Heaven is near, they block out our view of the Son.

WHAT’S ESSENTIAL FOR THE JOURNEY

Yes, it’s a hard lesson in life how important it is to travel light. Before my wife and I moved back to her hometown of Germantown Hills from my native Nova Scotia, we used to visit her folks two, three or more times annually for about 18 years. I can tell you, over the years the suitcases got smaller and smaller, and by the end we took only carry-ons we could tuck under the seats in front of us.

The trick was to avoid having to check luggage, as we would have to pick it up from the baggage claim at the border, present it at customs, and then re-check it. That was way more hassle than we wanted in holiday-clogged airports between tight connecting flights.

What’s essential before setting out on a journey? Well, I need my keys, obviously, but I’m unlikely to forget those before I leave the house, as I can’t lock the door or start the car without them. (Mind you, I’ve locked my keys inside my car, which happened to be running. Thank God for Triple A!)

Meanwhile, the key to Heaven is Him, and we never know when we’ll be called home and require the Master’s key to eternal life. When that happens, the weight of our faith — no matter how deep and wide — won’t strain our luggage allowance by even an ounce, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:30) At a nod from him, heavenly customs will wave us through without a hitch.

PAUL THOMAS MOORE is a Catholic commentator and singer-songwriter. He and wife Mary Louise attend St. Mary of Lourdes in Germantown Hills. He can be reached at paulthomasmoore@hotmail.com.

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