The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
2016 – Cycle C
Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-13; Psalm 90; Colossians 3:1-5; 9-11; Luke 12:13-21
What is your attitude toward money?
Honestly, how important is having money to you? How important is it to have savings? If you don’t have much in the bank, how badly do you desire to have a nest egg? How much does the college education of your children, retirement or future health care impinge on your attitude toward money? How much time and energy do you put into work above and beyond what you and your family need to live on?
“Put to death…the greed that is idolatry.”
Are you an avid consumerist?
Face it, we all are. We have been taught by corporations and the entertainment business to be consumerists from a very early age with product placement and a variety of marketing strategies to get us to spend money. And we, family and friends, consumers ourselves, are complicit in doing the purchasing and giving birth to yet another little consumer without reflection on our actions. The secular celebration of Christmas, birthdays and graduations, even the first celebration of Christian Sacraments are more than marked with the perceived need to purchase a gift or give money as part of the celebration. And worse, how often do people expect to receive something which makes the gift or money seem obligatory rather than a freewill and unwarranted offering?
“Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”
What is your attitude toward possessions?
Does the amount of possessions you have and accumulate define who you are? Do possessions determine your attitude toward other people marking out those who are poorer in your estimation and those who are your equals? Do you use possessions to garner favour or as an entrance into some élite group? How difficult or easy is it to do “spring cleaning” and discard items you have forgotten about or have no use for anymore? Who possesses? Do you possess items or do the items possess you?
“A person’s life does not consist of possessions.”
Money, possessions, matters of inheritance and the anxiety over these issues have moral and spiritual implications. Money is always about more than money. Consider past situations in your own families. Our spending habits, our motivations for saving, and our general attitude toward material goods are all invested with emotions and often reveal the true heart of a person, a family, a congregation. The Finance Council and Trustees entrusted with the care of the temporal goods of a parish may have one of the more difficult tasks since their personal attitudes can and do affect their decisions for the parish.
The bottom line that all these temporal issues raise is the question of our capacity to trust in God.
Work is a noble activity. Work is a sharing in the creative action of God begun on the first day. Work offers dignity to the human person. Providing for your family is important; even providing for the future. And God made and offered this created world to us for our enjoyment. But! – are these aspects of human life infused with trusting that God will provide for our needs?
What does it mean to be a person, a family, a people who are “rich in what matters to God”?
What does matter to God?
Jesus does not directly answer this question but Luke’s Gospel provides us with insights.
Being rich in what matters to God entails using our resources for the benefit of another person in need as the Samaritan did. In the parable of the Samaritan, the Samaritan bound up the wounds of the man beaten by robbers, lifted him up and place in his own vehicle and drove him to a motel; paying for the expense of the motel. As Jesus concluded: “Go and do likewise.” [Luke 10:37]
Being rich in what matters to God includes intentionally listening to Jesus’ words as Mary did. Remember her sister Martha? She was distracted with many things and like the younger brother in regard to his inheritance complained to Jesus. Jesus rebuked her by saying, “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” [Luke 10:42]
Being rich in what matters to God consists of prayerfully trusting that God will provide for our needs and being grateful. As Jesus taught, “Give us this day our daily bread.” [Luke 11:3]
Being rich in what matters to God includes putting to death, consensual sex outside of the marriage bond, greed, impurity, anger, hatred, slander, abusive language toward other people. Why put these to death? Because you are baptized into the death of Jesus. [Colossians 3:3]
Being rich in what matters to God includes selling and giving away possessions and supporting charitable agencies. As Jesus simply and boldly teaches, “Sell your belongings and give alms.” [Luke 12:33]
So, what matters to you?