Gospel Reflection: 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malvern Minute

 

EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

JULY 31, 2016

Alleluia, Alleluia.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

The holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 12: 13-21

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”

Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.  He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’

But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?

Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”

The Gospel of the Lord

REFLECTION

Today’s Gospel opens with a member of the crowd who tried to pull Jesus into what appears to be a family dispute over money among brothers.  While Jesus refuses to be placed in the middle, Jesus does seize the opportunity as a teachable moment, and Saint Luke preserves this significant teaching of Jesus for us. Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.

Money, and its most exaggerated form of greed can drive family members apart, and even erode the bond of family itself!  In fact, greed left unchecked has the power to destroy others and ourselves.  Greed’s close ally in the realm of sin is pride; both of which are referred to has deadly sins.  While often times greed is immediately associated with money, it really refers to any uncontrolled desire for possessions thereby placing objects above everything else even God.

The First Letter of Paul to Timothy identifies the power that uncontrolled desire for money can have on a person: For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains (1 Timothy 6:10).   While love of money is a root of evil, money and possessions in themselves are not evil.  We all need things and even money in order to provide for ourselves and those for whom we are responsible. However, love of money or greed for possessions is a disordered desire and an abuse of good things.  A person possessed by greed or in perpetual pursuit of things, is a person without peace!

Jesus offers a parable that brings his teaching into sharp focus. The man in the parable was already rich, and yet he desired even more.  When the man experienced even more good fortune, he considered only himself – saying to himself: Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!

The added possessions lead the man into even more self-centerednessprideful selfishness.  He had forgotten that all he had was a gift from God.  In a Gospel sense, God provides blessings so that we in turn might bless others.  Things of this world have value only to the degree we use them for the good of others, as well as ourselves.  God addresses the man in the parable and asks a powerful question: You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?  And yet, I am sure we can see that the question is not just directed to the man in the parable; it is relevant for us as well.  How do we use, and for whom do we use, our money and possessions?

The Christian’s life is not one of possessing; the disciple’s life is being possessed by the Holy Spirit.  Life’s purpose is desiring and seeking Christ, our way, truth and life!  The Gospel ends this morning with Jesus giving a stern warning: Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.

WE BELIEVE, AND THEREFORE SPEAK (2 Corinthians 4:13)

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