Do You Rent or Own?

Back in the early 1950’s we lived on Bloomfield, a pretty city street in Akron, Ohio. Dad took the bus to work downtown and mom cooked, cleaned, and fed the three Horan children. I remember a big staircase we were forbidden to slide down and a bedroom I had all to myself.

We rented the house for five years. Then one day, to surprise his wife, dad put $2,000 down on a little Cape Cod north of the city. Mom was furious in that she hadn’t been consulted; but with feelings repaired, the Horan’s moved into their first and only home. Dad was pretty proud. The American dream was coming true. (Mom had still to say goodbye to the dream of moving to Columbus to be near her large family.)

So we owned a home. That’s where I learned to ride a bike and Jimmy Farrell and I would explore the woods behind our street. Patty and Maureen did all the things girls do to grow up. Fifty-two years mom and dad had that house.

I knew the day would come, but it totally shocked me to see the “For Sale” sign in our front yard when I drove back home to see mom (dad had been dead 3 years). “I have no home now”, was the feeling.

I’m sure many of you have a story to tell just like this. The point to be made is, something we all discover sooner or later, we have no lasting home. St. Paul tells us that all things in this world are passing away (1Cor. 7:31) “Time is running out. From now on let those . . . who buy or own act as though they were not owning, those using the world as not using it fully.”

Why? Because we are renting this body, this space, this time, this home, this family, this parish . . . It’s all passing away. Nothing material is made to last forever. That means we’re here temporarily. We’re renting. We’re pilgrims on a journey.

St. Paul even calls Christians “strangers and aliens on earth.” (Hebrews 11:13) “Those who speak thus show they are seeking a homeland . . . a better home- land, a heavenly one.” vs. 16 This in no way lessens the beauty and wonder of the world and our responsibility to work for a better world here and now. “God so loved the world . . . ” (Jn. 3:16) So do we.

Our “passing through” has huge implications for how we use the things of the earth. Not being “owners” we are “stewards” instead. St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, “We possess external things not as our own, but as common, so that we are ready to give to others in their need.” Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si reminds us that the goods of the earth (our water, air, forests, farmland) are given to each generation to be properly cared for so they might be passed on to the generations that follow.

When you think of it everything we have has been given to us: our home (Mother Earth), our very lives, our family, our country, our skills to carve out our life’s story. And then . . . . . . there will come a time when we have to leave it all behind. We will pass from this earth to enter (once again by God’s gift) Eternal Life.

No more renting; we’ll be home. In the meantime let’s use this time to make this a better world for those who will follow.

Bless your Summer days.

Fr. Tim