Once upon a time there was a rich King who had four wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to the finest of delicacies. He gave her nothing but the best and was always concerned for her well-being.
He also loved the 3rd wife very much and was always showing her off to neighboring kingdoms. However, he feared that one day she would leave him for another. He kept a tight hold on her.
He also loved his 2nd wife. She was his confidant and was always kind, considerate and patient with him. Whenever the King faced a problem, he could go to her, and she would help him get through the difficult times. She brought him a sense of joy and made him laugh whenever he was with her.
The King’s 1st wife was a very loyal partner and had made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love the first wife. Although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her and gave her no food or clothing.
One day, the King fell ill and he knew his time was short. He thought of his luxurious life and wondered, “I now have four wives with me, but when I die, I’ll be all alone.”
Thus, he asked the 4th wife, “I have loved you the most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I’m dying will you follow me and keep me company?” “No way!”, replied the 4th wife, and she walked away without another word. Her answer cut like a sharp knife right into his heart.
The sad King then asked the 3rd wife, “I have loved you all my life. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me and keep me company?” “No!”, replied the 3rd wife. “Life is too good! When you die, I’m going to remarry!” His heart sank and turned cold.
He then asked the 2nd wife, “I have always turned to you for help and you’ve always been there for me. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?” “I’m sorry, I can’t help you out this time!”, replied the 2nd wife. “At the very most, I can only send you to your grave.” Her answer came like a bolt of lightning, and the King was devastated.
Then a voice called out: “I’ll leave with you and follow you no matter where you go.” The King looked up, and there was his first wife. She was so skinny as she suffered from malnutrition and neglect. Greatly grieved, the King said, “I should have taken much better care of you when I had the chance!”
In truth, we all have 4 wives in our lives:
Our 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it will leave us when we die.
Our 3rd wife is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, it will all go to others.
Our 2nd wife is our worldly pleasures– all the things that seem to help us escape the problems in life. No matter how we have relied on such pleasures, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave.
And our 1st wife is our Soul…often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power, and pleasures of this world. However, our Soul is the only thing that will follow us wherever we go.
As we consider what important things we should try to accomplish in 2016, this parable helps put things in perspective. Certainly our bodies are important and we should take good care of ourselves. We are also called to be good stewards of our wealth and possessions. And, there is nothing wrong with enjoying some of the good pleasures of life like a vacation or dining out.
But each of these things pale when we consider what is of eternal importance. May 2016 find us strengthening our souls with spiritual exercises, being good stewards of our souls by setting aside proper time each day to nourish it, and experiencing the joys of seeing our souls flourish through our wonderful Sacramental life (Holy Communion, Holy Confession, etc).
Remember those 3 wives that abandoned the King when he needed them the most. Only one was of eternal worth. May we all take better care of that one while we can!!
A blessed and joyous 2016 to each of you!!
With much love and prayers,