Sunday, October 23, 2011

I Found A Penny

Happy is the one who finds wisdom;
It is more precious than your most valued possessions.

-- Prov. 3:13

I found a penny in the street today, and I picked it up and looked at it. It seemed like any other penny. I looked at the front, the picture, year it was minted, and the words --- “In God We Trust.” Then I looked at the back, and saw another picture and words, including some Latin. I saw it was made of copper --- I wondered where it had come from. I paused and looked around the parking lot where it had lain --- where did the one who dropped it come from? Had he been distracted, and not noticed his loss? Was it precious for him, like for the woman who offered the two small coins in the temple -- for her, a great offering? Or did he see it fall and think: “It matters not; I have so many others; my time is too valuable to stop for even a moment?” Did he consider what he could have done with that small penny, for one who needed it?

And my mind wondered: How well do I protect the resources and blessings given me, making sure I do not lose or waste them, making sure they help the least of His children, whom He EXPECTS me to care for?

I attend a weekly Bible Study class; when we exchange emails about the class we sometimes refer to it jokingly as the BS class. That tells you something, I guess. In a very organized way, we dig into the verses at each class. Just a few small ones are looked at each week, like the penny I found, a small thing. For me, perhaps the small words are precious, and I see all things about them that the writer intended, and for whom and why. Or, perhaps, the words are trivial; I have heard them or ones like them many times before, and they bore me. I put them away like I put the penny in my pocket, and think nothing on them.

But if I did that, treated the time and words as casual thing, I myself would have lost something, something precious which I might never find again. For that moment, that reading of those few words, was a special time in my life, perhaps in a special place or with special companions, and that moment will never return again. ONLY a penny? ONLY words? That moment may have been the key to my entering heaven, or helping another to do so. And I might have ignored it.

The Word of the Lord, Scripture, is said to be precious for they are His words, a giving of His Spirit. The earthly writers wrote them with earthly intentions, for they were men. It is well that we understand their meaning and intents, but the words were also written by the Holy Spirit, through them. And of the Spirit’s intents, the writers really knew nothing about, for those intents included us, who would read those words so many years later. All of Scripture, God’s words, are intended for us, at the time and place at which we read them, for God knew when that would be, and He knew what we would need to hear at that moment, and so it was written. It’s a moment at which He speaks to us directly, what He wants us to hear.

I think too often we treat the words of Scripture lightly. Many Scripture scholars and saints have noted that if we read or study Scripture and get nothing personal out of it, we have wasted our time. If we treat them casually, like the found penny we put in our pocket, we will have ignored words God wrote and meant specifically for us, right now, today. We will have acted as if we have something more important to do or think about, than listen to God speaking directly to us.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. --- Mt 22:37-8

How well do I protect the resources and blessings given me, like the penny or The Word, making sure they help the least of His children, whom He EXPECTS me to care for? Do I treat them as the precious gift they are, not following the example of the unprofitable servant who hid his lord’s money, not using His grace, but neglecting it? He gives me many blessings, but the greatest are the words He speaks to me.

Sloth is the great evil of our not willing to take the time to seek and do His will. He speaks to us, and we do not listen.

Pray that you might seek and hear His word for you today, that you might be pure of heart, for ‘Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.’ Mt 5:8


  1. I always thought of sloth as laziness, being to lazy to get a job, pick up after oneself, to lazy to be tidy regarding hygiene, ect. But, you have summed up sloth in a very useful way for me to reflect upon. It's a perfect spiritual way of relating to sloth. Thank you.

    I really enjoyed your post, you gave me a lot to think about.

    Christ's peace be with you always.

  2. The post arises from what I am (or am not) getting out of a Bible Study group I joined. The thoughts on Sloth I read or heard recently, although I didn't search out the attribution. Perhaps it was from Fr. Cantalamessa or Bl John Neumann, both of whom I am reading in my daily meditations.