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Turning Points

If we stop and think, we all can pinpoint certain turning points in our lives. It is surely an understatement to say that there are numerous life-changing events taking place in this virus-ridden, protest-filled world of ours. When something drastic and traumatic explodes in our lives, life’s puzzle pieces might not fall back to configure as once they did.
St. Paulinus of Nola, whom we remember today, had many pieces to his life story. Biographical summaries tell us that he took an early retirement from his practice of law and public office only to turn from this whole luxurious way of life after his newborn child died. Subsequently, he and his wife were baptized and chose a very austere life filled with charity and love for the poor. He was ordained a priest, founded a monastic community, and eventually became the bishop of Nola, in Campania, Italy. He had many famous and influential friends and was a notable prose writer and poet. Ultimately, many people benefited from St. Paulinus’s alteration of lifestyle.
St. Paulinus followed the message in the gospel passage read at his memorial mass:
“Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:33-34)
We are bombarded with advertising promotions and gimmicks. We are encouraged to want and buy more and more products. The ads don’t encourage us to buy for the poor or downsize our own wardrobes or the contents of our cupboards and donate the proceeds to those in need. It would be quite a turning point in our economy if, instead of trying to get businesses flourishing again by buying more extravagantly, we were to sell our possessions and give our excesses away. Granted, we don’t want to see businesses go under, but what if we were to try, little by little, to refocus our perceptions of and responses to those people less fortunate than we are? Drastic changes can cause trauma and drama, but one small calculated turn can lead to another.
Recent pandemic experience has brought to light the fact that many people live from paycheck to paycheck. On the other hand, it highlighted for me how much I spend on eating at restaurants and shopping recreationally for items I really don’t need. Perhaps enlightened turning points are at hand.
Just as we do when we turn a car at an intersection, it is wise to slow down and look around. Maybe it is time to reassess our treasures, check our hearts, and invite God into our individual challenges. As we pray for peace, justice, and health in our troubled world, may we find renewed strength in the knowledge that God’s masterful timing and presence are always with us.
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.
The Gospel Passage is from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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