Mentors & the Gift of Wisdom

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Deacon Dick Kostner

What makes me successful, what wealth can I take with me into the next life? Bottom line: What will make me happy both in this life and in the next? Where can I acquire the knowledge to answer these very important questions? The answer lies within this weekend’s Scripture readings. The Father and Jesus share with us the answers to these very important life questions.

Very shortly after I had passed the Bar Exam I sat down one day and drew up what I thought would be my plan for success and happiness. The answer I had was to make my Fathers Law firm increase its profits by and through my participation and thus I would make my Father and my family proud of me. Feeling very proud of my great plan I sat down one day with my Father to share my plans of success and happiness for not only myself but for the firm by earning more money and wealth.

Much to my dismay, and after pouring me a cup of coffee and sitting down with me, his response to what I thought was a great plan, was: “Why do you want to waste your life on making more money all at the expense of happiness and enjoyment of family and friends in this life? Make enough money to care for your family and then enjoy life!” What he was saying to me was that money will not make me successful and happy and will only waste what little time I have here on earth to accomplish real wealth that I will be able to not only enjoy now but also take with me into the next life.

Dad loved to help others. He enjoyed people and spent his time here on earth making their lives easier. I remember many Friday evenings he would spend time with some of my sister’s high school friends playing Sheepshead into the early morning and then moving on to helping them with understanding and completing calculus assignments for their school classes. Dad did not let money control his life but rather used the money he made to help others enjoy their life. I remember one of those young people he played cards with coming up to me at his funeral and telling me that if it were not for my dad he and his wife would not have been able to purchase their home as they were unable to get a loan at the bank and dad loaned them the money to purchase it.

Our First Reading from the Book of Wisdom instructs us to seek mentors who will gift us with Wisdom. With this gift we are told, “Yet all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands.” Jesus the ultimate Mentor tells us in our Gospel that the wealth we should seek is not money but rather the wealth and happiness we acquire by serving God and our neighbor.

Wisdom is not intelligence per say, it is rather a gift of understanding that can only come from our Creator. Jesus tells us to seek out those who have been gifted with wisdom for they know truth and they will lead us to the Father’s house. I have had many mentors during my life all of whom I spent much time with listening to their instructions on how to live a happy life. Many I would not have encountered if I would not have listened to my dad’s wisdom lessons.

I will share with you one more mentor story about a person many of you knew. His name was Ed Hassemer better known as “Gabby” Hassemer. He was a sheet metal worker by trade but he was also gifted with much wisdom. He had earned a living and spent his time not so much for himself but rather for his family, friends and even strangers. He owned several rental properties in Bloomer. His typical tenants were marginal people with limited resources but were able to find good housing that they could afford because of this person. He had a big heart and helped out many who just needed some help. I watched and listened to his wisdom and Barb and I followed his lead in acquiring rentals to supplement our income and provide housing for others.

Gabby was always helping out others. He heated his basement with a wood stove and would spend time during the summer cutting and splitting wood to burn in the stove for winter. One day while we were heading out to the woods to go hunting he was shaking his head and I asked him what was wrong. He said that one of his friends had come over to his house and said he was in trouble because he had no wood to burn and could not acquire any for a month or so. I suspected this was not true, as I knew his friend and I suspected he was just trying to take advantage of his friendship to save some money. In any case Gabby gave him the wood he had cut for the winter on the promise that before it got real cold, the friend would supply and pay him back for the wood he was gifted with. This never happened and Gab went without wood for most of that winter. I offered to go after his so-called friend but his response was “No, he needed it more than I did.”

Gabby had a lot of wealth but it was not something he earned by working but rather by giving of himself for others. He had the kind of wealth that he could take with him into the next life. About a year before he died he gifted me with wisdom I had heard before. He said, “Kostner, some day soon you will be standing over me looking at me lying in a casket. You will hear people talking about me and how I lived my life. But one thing you won’t hear them say about me is: #1, That man worked himself to death; and #2, He never took the time to go fishing!

Today’s Scripture readings tell us that happiness cannot be purchased—it is a gift from God for living out and obeying His two greatest commandments to love God and neighbor as ourselves. Next month I will try and explain to you what I think God would like to see you do with the gifts you have left over after your death.. I have an assignment for you folks. I would ask that sometime you sit down and make a list of events in your life that gave you the most happiness. I did this and I found out that my happiest times in life were when I was conversing with God and helping others either celebrating their life or helping them get through tough times. I believe this was not by chance. Our Catechism teaches us that we were created to know, love, and serve God. To know love and serve God is to be of service to God and our neighbor as Jesus lived out His life. This is not by chance but rather part of our very being. This is how God wired us at our creation. This will gift us with happiness because it makes us whole.

Our Gospel this week has Jesus, our mentor, instructing us that wealth is not bad and will bring us happiness and eternal life, if we but share it with God, family, and our neighbors.

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