Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time July 31, 2016
Reading 1 Ecc 1:2; 2:21-23
Responsorial Psalm Ps 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17
- (1) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Reading 2 Col 3:1-5, 9-11
Alleluia Mt 5:3
- Alleluia, alleluia. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Gospel Lk 12:13-21
Homily— July 30 & 31, 2016
The Wizard of Id has been a popular comic strip for years. The characters are set in the medieval kingdom of Id. In one strip that could have been suggested by today’s readings, the wizard asks the king, “Of all the major sins, Sire, which do you consider to be number one?”
“Well,” responds the king, “they’re all bad, but I like greed the best.”
Greed keeps us from finding true meaning in life. For most of us, greed is not overt; it is much more subtle. Most of us say that we do not live to get rich or to have finer things, but Paul warns us to look with wider eyes. We may never say, “I want a bigger house.” (Maybe we do want a bigger house) But, we may very well be saying that when we say something such as, “I want my kids growing up better than I did.” We will spend small fortunes making sure our children have more than anyone else’s children.
Children, as well as The Wizard of Id, can alert us to the Gospel message. How many of you have angrily said to a child, “ I work hard to give you what you have-- only to hear them say he or she does not care. All your child wants is for you to come home after work to be with the family. What do we work for? Stuff or relationships? Relationships, particularly our relationship with God, are at the heart of finding meaning in life.
In this life, what do we need? Food, clothing, and shelter readily come to mind. But how much of these necessities of life do we really need? It is easy to confuse wants with needs, greed with security. This gospel challenges us to evaluate possessions, pursuits, and priorities. Earthly goods are necessary and give essential pleasures and even great joy, but in themselves they offer nothing to our souls, especially not when they are hoarded, not distributed to others, and when one substitutes wealth and physical contentment for spiritual wholeness.
Money and things are not evil; both are necessary. Jesus tells us to see money and things as mere tools in our lives, not as the point of our lives.
It was a practice in Jesus’ day to ask respected rabbis to settle disputes, so it is no surprise that someone brought a family dispute over an inheritance for Jesus to arbitrate. When a second parent dies in a family there can be a real challenge if someone thinks the Will is not fair to them. Sometimes family members no longer speak to each other over money or property as if that is more important than their relationship.
Those with Jesus would not have been prepared for Jesus’ refusal to get involved and the vehemence of His refusal. Jesus was not going to be part of any dispute involving money. He responded with a parable that should alert us to the heart of Christian life: we live for something other than wealth and possessions. The proper use of our goods, for ourselves and others, indicates that we must have the proper orientation—namely, generosity toward others and toward God. It is only when we are rich toward God that we can say to our souls; relax, all is in order.
We often count on more time and energy to enjoy more goods. The more becomes the enemy of the sufficient. The future becomes the enemy of the now. In reality, now is all we have. We should evaluate our lives periodically to check our focus. If today is your last, do you feel right with God?
I recently talked to a man in the hospital that was told he had five years to live and his hope was to live more. What if you were told you had one month to live—what would you do with your possessions? Do you have a Will and is it up to date? What are you sharing with the Lord? I have a monthly commitment to the parish. I have made a commitment to the renovation at Wahlert High School. I have made a commitment to our roof project. I have a Will. If I had a month to live I would pay off my funeral expenses and give something to my siblings as well as to the parish. If I was healthy enough I would have a celebration with family and friends giving thanks for my life on the way out! I would also make a commitment to the poor.
There was a man who was dying who wanted to bring his wealth with him to heaven and he was able to make a deal with St. Peter that he could bring a trunk along with him. The man decided to made a trunk that was ten feet long and four feet wide and six feet high. When he came to the pearly gates St. Peter said what are you doing with such a big box. The man replied it was his trunk and that St. Peter had not given him any specific dimensions that the trunk had to be. St. Peter kind of sighed and said ok open it up and show me what you have. The man opened it up and it was filled with gold bars. St. Peter looked at him with a puzzled look and asked why he brought a box full of pavement to heaven.!!