It’s Sunday here in San Antonio. But, all the stores are crawling with people buying lots of things they don’t need simply because they are on sale. With Thanksgiving next week, I think people are frantic to buy because Christmas is on the horizon and all the stores are trying to get customers to buy from their store first. After all, we each have only a certain amount of money to spend.
But, where is the rest, where is the prayer ? What happened to sabbath? I think part of the answer is that we began to lose respect for the sabbath (Jewish Saturday and Christian Sunday) when we began to become shrewd customers.
Don’t you hate the word customer? I become a buyer by custom, I guess. I feel more like I am an acustomed and practiced hunter of superstore game, wild or domestic for which I want to pay the least money possible.
At Sears, my eyes focus on a leather jacket for $49.99. I paid nearly twice that for the one I bought last year at Target. What a deal! I grab it, like its some trophy buck deer and take it to the counter. I pay the sale price and 8.5% sales tax and walk to my car satisfied that I scored a real bargain.
The next day, I get up, eat breakfast, get ready to go to work and put on the leather jacket I have grown to love during this past year which now I suddenly realize is my old leather jacket.
Well, there is no sense in wearing the new one since the old one is already broken in. It’s soft and a bit weathered but I really like it. It’s warm and comfortable.
The new leather jacket with its price tag and labels still attached will stay in the closet until I feel ready to get rid of the one I am wearing. I sigh and wonder: Why did I buy the new jacket? Because as an American I am a customer by upbringing. I can’t remember when I last simply wore something out. No, I generally put a piece of clothing aside simply because someow I acquired something newer. The only exception to this rule is that we men usually wear our briefs until there are more holes than cloth.
Recently, I have had to shop for myself at the supermarket. At first, I didn’t know where the eggs were or where frozen spinach was. I couldn’t even find ketchup until some lady pointed vaguely to aisle 7, top shelf.
I get to aisle seven and there are a dozen brands of ketchup (sometimes spelled catsup). There were small sized bottles and mega-containers of what must be industrial strength ketchup.
All I wanted was a standard bottle, about the size of a 12 ounce bottle of Coke.That bottle would have lasted me for three months.
Great! The standard size bottle of ketchup is on sale.
Ah, but not so fast. It’s buy two, get one free. So, I pay six dollars for three bottles. Sounds O. K. to me but what am I going to do with two bottles of ketchup I don’t need and which will take up room on the shelf in the pantry against that awful day when I run out?
Why did I buy three bottles of the gooey tomato preserve –Gringo salsa? Because ketchup was on sale. Now, I know that if I divide three into six dollars, I will have paid two dollars per bottle. But, I only wanted one bottle of ketchup. The brand which was not on sale was $2.19. How could I pass up a deal that saved me 19 cents a bottle? So, instead I ended up paying $3.81 more than I needed to pay and I have ketchup for a year.
I am a customer, a hunter and gatherer just like the pickers who gather blueberries in August among Michgan’s endless rows of blueberry bushes. I gather stuff from the lush fields of products and leave few bargains unclaimed on the shelves.
But wait! There’s more! I am a consumer. Not just a customer, a consumer. I eat up things or squirrel them away until the time I might need them. I am an American consumer. I hoard things and throw away used but serviceable stuff all the time.
Our Lord says somewhere in the great book about Him that we should avoid greed in all its forms. Sometimes, I am greed itself in the form of a consumer.
I am even referred to by the health care profession as an health care consumer. Am I eating bandages? Nibbling on the emergency room carpets? Could I be gourging on their medical charts when they are not watching me?
I am going to try to be simply a person who lives like he trusts in God. Look at the lillies of the field, Jesus says, they do not cut down the grass of the field, bale it and store it up in barns. Yet,
Your Father feeds them. And somewhere else He says: You are worth more than many sparrows.
Maybe, just maybe, I will cease consuming God’s gifts and learn to love them enough to live simply and cherish the things He has given me. I love His gifts. They are all free by the way, and I love to get free stuff. Don’t you?