Closed for Inventory–a.k.a. Lent

As a family that owned a small wholesale business for three generations, we knew that at the end of every fiscal year, we had to close up shop early and take inventory.

For those who’ve never worked in the private sector, inventory is a counting up of all saleable assets.

Once counted, their value is then tabulated and turned over to the accountants to see if in fact the business turned a profit and/or has liquidity.

In our case growing up, the easiest things to count were the cases of Marlboros and Winston cigarettes and boxes of Hershey and M&M Mars candy.

Reason being was they were large and their cost commonly known, since we sold them most often.

The worst part of doing inventory was counting the pipes.

We had hundreds of them, mostly made by a company called Medeco.

I can still see them in different lengths and shapes, laying in their cardboard pullout drawers.

My favorite was the Windsor, which curled down onto your chin.

It had a very stately look about it.

Although I loved them, doing inventory of the little items like that was tricky, as each one had a different value.

Lent is a bit like that for our souls.

Each year we Catholics take some extra time to see if we’ve grown or regressed in our faith.

The big items are easy to count up, like whether or not we’ve attended Mass regularly, or tithed our blessings…

It’s the littler items, like our demeanor toward our spouse or our friends that takes more time to analyze.

Are we growing short-tempered, or forgetting to do the kind things we once did when we first got married?

At work, are we slacking because we think we’ve put in enough time that goofing off is our right as a veteran?

Have we gone a whole year without calling our best friends who moved away?

This is a very important time for all Christians.

Even those who don’t observe Lent should at least check out today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 6.

It’s a lesson on inventory for our souls, taught by the most stately Master of all.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”
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