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Travel Light Through Life

What do bottled water, home computers and cell phones have in common? The answer is that none of them were widely used even a generation ago. In a column in Everyday Catholic, Jim and Susan Vogt reflect on how such items which most of us take for granted today, are a mixed blessing. They make life easier, but at a cost. For example, cell phones are a wonderful safety device when the car breaks down. They do help family members keep in touch and can save extra trips to the stores. But they often become a poor substitute for face to face conversation to say nothing of how disturbing they can be to bystanders or of the automobile accidents they cause. The point is that we need to use modern technology wisely and not just buy the latest device because we can. During Lent we need to reflect on what it means to be a Christian consumer. As the Vogts state, Jesus isn’t posted at the checkout lane prompting us on the morality of our purchases. Yet He does speak to us about these matters, at least indirectly, in the scriptures. “Take

care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions” (Luke 12:15). Or again, there is that disturbing passage “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor” (Matthew 19:21). The Vogts offer some interesting comments on these instructions of the Lord. For example, they ask whether we should “travel light through life.” Do we need to free ourselves of unnecessary possessions? How many rooms have to

have televisions? How many computers are enough? And they question if we do enough to resist advertising. Just because we can afford something, do we need it? Marketing tries to persuade us that we will be happier if we have the latest thing? Is that true? The bottom line is that we have to get beyond thinking that our personal value or happiness depends on what we have and consume. As the Vogts conclude, “When Jesus promised himself as “living water” (John 7:38), we don’t think he had bottled water in mind!”