Four Hundred Texts on Love (Second Century) 24

89. Some people with possessions possess them dispassionately, and so when deprived of them they are not dismayed but are like those who accepted the seizure of their goods with joy (cf. Heb. 10:34). Others possess with passion, so that when they are in danger of being dispossessed they become utterly dejected, like the rich man in the Gospel who went away full of sorrow (cf. Matt. 19:22); and if they actually are dispossessed, they remain dejected until they die. Dispossession, then, reveals whether a man’s inner state is dispassionate or dominated by passion.

It seems to me that St. Maximos touches on something very important here. The state of our heart when it comes to possessions is not usually revealed by what we have. Some greedily seek ever more and crush people to attain it. But many of us are not like that. The state of of our heart is revealed when we have our possessions taken from us or are in danger of losing them. Are they truly our possessions or do they in fact possess us? Do we have stuff or are we in bondage to stuff?

My older son loved the movie Labyrinth when he was little and my youngest daughter rediscovered the movie and also has enjoyed it. I’m reminded now of the scene in which the old women carrying great loads of their possessions begin to similarly burden Sarah with the stuff she “needs”. Freedom came in letting it all go. If we cannot let go, then we are not the owners. We are the owned.

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