In the opening line of today’s Gospel, Jesus instructs his disciples, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.”
When I hear that line, I can’t help but think of the fact that throughout the United States there are some 44,000-52,000 storage facilities (facilities not units) and that the self-storage sector is one that now makes $38 billion a year. Almost ten percent of American households rent a self-storage unit.
One has to at least pause when one looks at those two previous paragraphs together.
It is one thing to recognize that there are some important items that we don’t use every day but that we want to hold on to. Family photos and important documents come to mind. But furniture that doesn’t fit into our homes? Appliances we obviously don’t use or they wouldn’t be in storage? Artwork we no longer want on our walls?
And I’m not talking about temporarily storing belongings in between moves or during a home renovation or while one is on temporary assignment abroad. Those (and perhaps other factual situations like that) are understandable. But having so much more than we can use that we pay money to keep those goods elsewhere, for years – that is what one has to wonder about.
Jesus instruction, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,” at a minimum invites us to spend some time reflecting on our patterns of accumulation of goods.