In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, for it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle. Proverbs 23:5
“I am not telling a lie: human life is a dream.
In our dreams we look without seeing, we listen without hearing, we taste and touch without tasting or touching. We speak without saying anything, we walk without moving. We seem to be moving normally even though we stay still and to be making our habitual gestures even though we are not. The mind invents realities that are entirely imaginary.
When we are awake, our thoughts are like these dreams. They come and go. They meet and part. They fly away before we can catch them.
Nor is our body any different from a dream. Is not its beauty likely to go rotten before it is ripe? Is not its health continually being threatened with illness? How little it takes to destroy its strength! How easily its senses deteriorate!
Our careers are no less precarious. Often a single day is enough to scatter a great work to the winds. Many people who are held in respect and honor with a sudden change of events fall into disgrace. The greatest kingdoms on earth have been destroyed in a short time.
If we have so many changes of scene in life, and so many dark experiences, we ought to learn to distinguish what is virtuous from what is base, what is good from what is bad, what is just from what is unjust.
I give you an example of what I mean. Do you possess a lot of money? If so, give it away because the beauty of riches consists not in money-boxes but in helping the poor. Are you short of money? Be careful not to envy the rich. And don’t despair, because human affairs are always changing into their opposites.”
Philo of Alexandria (c. 20 BC – AD 50) cf. C. Cajetanus, Thesaurus Patrum VII, 4155, in Drinking from the Hidden Fountain: A Patristic Breviary, Ancient Wisdom for Today’s World, ed. by Thomas Spidlik (Kalamazoo: Cistercian, 1994) 35-36.
After preaching twice today in Seoul, I head to Cairo on a night flight. So it seemed fitting to cite Philo of Alexandria, Egypt, in this book I am reading.
Life is but a dream and how often to we set our affections on the wrong things and in a moment they are gone. How quickly can health erode!
Seoul appears gripped with fear as Coronavirus has everyone worried about the threat of disease. But Philo seeks to raise our sights higher.
We should really be worried if our hope is in money. And if we are storing it up on earth, we have it in the wrong place.
If this seems difficult for you to swallow. Meditate on Psalm 49. Riches cannot save us, satisfy us, or give us security. Only God can.
Don’t put your hope in things that can vanish in seconds. Fix your hope firmly on God and show that it is so by letting go of earthly wealth.
Do this and as your giving continues, you will grasp experientially what generosity is all about. Do it while you can as wealth often vanishes.
And that’s not a dream or a fantasy! The American Dream on the other hand, is nothing but a nightmare in disguise that seeks to hinder generosity.Read more