My husband carried a small, brown, cardboard box into the house and exclaimed—half joking and half serious—“Look! Fifteen years of my life all fits in a box!”
After fifteen years, he made a major career change. When the time to leave had come, he went into the office to collect his personal items to bring home. Books, family photos, employee awards, crayoned illustrations from our kids spanning over a decade, and even a couple of baseball bobbleheads all fit into this small box.
I noticed the gangly teens in the kitchen making food, and spotted the tween, sprawled on the couch, engrossed in a book. I could hear the two littles bouncing a ball and giggling together in the foyer.
“The kids don’t fit in a box!” I called back from another room.
Around AD 250, the Roman Emperor Valerian demanded the treasures of the Church be collected and awarded to him. The man in charge of Church possessions, Deacon Lawrence, was given three days to bring all the riches to the emperor. Understanding Valerian’s intent, Lawrence sold all the precious gold in the Church’s possession and distributed it among the poor and the sick.
On the third day, Lawrence returned to the palace with a multitude of the poor and suffering people whom he had helped. He presented the collection of people to the emperor stating: “Here are the treasures of the Church.” The actions and statement of the deacon earned him martyrdom, and we now celebrate Saint Lawrence’s feast day in August.
St. Lawrence knew that one’s life does not consist of possessions and that we should not store up treasures here on Earth. He understood the lesson in today’s Gospel. His life’s work was rich in what mattered. He knew that people were the REAL treasures of the Church.
Real treasures don’t fit in a box.
The work done to raise a family—day in and day out—forming the souls entrusted to our care by God, will require true effort. We must labor with wisdom, knowledge, and skill to present these treasures later in heaven. And that can be both exhilarating and exhausting.
We will need help. This cultivation of souls is a group project.
As in the Psalm, we can call out to God, asking him to prosper the work of our hands!
And he will bless us in this life’s work.
We just can’t necessarily expect all our blessings to fit in a box.