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Homilies :: Latin Rite
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time Download This Homily

August 4, 2019

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Eccl 1:2. 2: 12-15,

Col 3: 1-5.9-11

Lk 12: 13-21

 

Gospel Reading 

 

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." But he said to him, "Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?" And he said to them, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God."

Rich in the eyes of God 

 

Reflection

(For the reflections on St John Vianney, please roll down)

 

Rich in the Eyes of God

 

“You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” What an alarming question and a dreadful warning of Jesus to all Egomaniacs! Jesus who warned us against calling anybody fool under the pain of hellfire (Mt 5:22) tells us of God calling a rich man ‘fool’! Is it a crime or something wrong to be rich? Then what about God who is the source and owner of all the wealth? Is not wealth a blessing of God? Wealth was always a cause of division, dispute, and much confusion. Some say it is a blessing to be rich while others say it is the source of all evil. This shows that people, in fact, lack clarity regarding the purpose of wealth. People have a tendency to misunderstand and misinterpret the words of Jesus and are inclined to believe that Jesus was against the rich and he promoted poverty and misery. To substantiate their perspective they may quote the beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Mt 5:3-4). They may also quote, “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep” (Lk 6:24-25). Was Jesus sadistic or a masochist? Was he getting pleasure out of the misery of others? Was he a pessimist who could not stand seeing people happy? The truth is far away from this.

 

Unfortunately in the history of Christian spirituality there were periods when pascho (Gk – to suffer) gained an upper hand over chairo (Gk - to rejoice). Church history reveals that in the Dark Ages of Europe, monasteries and convents became breeding grounds of sadists and masochists. They glorified the suffering aspect of the redemption to such an extent that life was depicted as a journey through the valley of tears. The Cross of Christ, which at the beginning by the Early Christians used as a sign of victory once again, was tainted into an instrument of torture and suffering. Flowery decorated crosses were replaced by crucifixes! The resurrection of Jesus was eclipsed by the exaggerated passion plays! Tears and lamentations, suppression and oppression became the motto of that period. Self-torturing was viewed as a sign of holiness. Even though many centuries have passed and the Second Vatican Council has saved and helped the Church and the Religious Orders to recapture their original purity and clarity, there are still many Christians who preferpascho over chairo and refuse to abandon the Dark Age spirituality of fear and passion. They are convinced that FEAR is more effective and powerful than LOVE to promote and enhance the Christian perfection.

 

However, the truth is far away from this sort of interpretation and understanding. The real spirit of Christ and his Church was always chairo– to rejoice. Wealth is not evil. It is the inordinate attachment or possessiveness that is wrong. As the Psalmist says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it” (Ps 24:1). St Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake;  for the earth is the Lord’s and all it contains” (1Cor 10:25-26). ‘To eat and to be eaten’ is the law of nature. We humans too are part and parcel of this elaborate food-web whether we like it or not. Jesus warned his listeners, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” He says, “Guard against all kinds of greed”. Some people entertain a wrong idea that greed pertains only to possession of wealth. St John of the Cross says that corresponding to every natural vice there are more subtle and, therefore, more dangerous spiritual vices as well. Thus, there are spiritual pride, spiritual envy, spiritual anger, spiritual greed, spiritual sloth, spiritual gluttony, and spiritual pride. Please take note of what Jesus says, “Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions”. This is a clear instruction of Jesus to advance from the state of a ‘person of having’ to a ‘person of being’ as the famous psychologist Eric Fromm would articulate. The man who approached Jesus requesting him to be an arbiter between him and his brother, as well as the rich man in the parable of Jesus, were both persons of having. They were great collectors. They wanted to collect as much as they can. Jesus warns what would happen to them at the end. They will be forced to leave behind all that they strenuously worked for and managed to get hold of. To the rich young man who approached Jesus asking for guidance to “possess” eternal life, Jesus suggested to “dispossess” everything he had and then come and follow him. According to Jesus, “Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions”. Those who possess in fact are getting possessed and remain prisoners of their possessions. They are not free anymore. The great Indian wisdom of aparigraha (detachment/non-possession) is the ultimate freedom. The plentiful grain laid up for many years in the barn cannot last forever. The stored up surplus grain by tearing down the barns and building bigger ones will definitely run out sooner or later. An easy life; eating, drinking and making merry also will definitely come to an end. It is in this respect aparigraha enables a person to embrace the whole world with love and compassion. According to Jesus, such a person alone is “rich in the eyes of God” since his/her possession has no limits or limitations. Just imagine what would be our situation and response if this very night God appears to us and hand over our return ticket back home. Will he repeat the same sentence that he spoke in the parable: “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” Are we ready? Any regret? Is there anything to amend?

 

Dr Kurian Perumpallikunnel CMI


Homilies Navchetana Apps, the first of its kind is produced and published by Navchetana Communications, Bhopal, India to assist the clergy to preach the World of God and also as a handy spiritual resource for the people of God to reflect on the daily spiritual passages at their convenience. You can download this on your Android phone from Google play and you can see the Gospel reflections of the whole year. The size of this app is just 2.5 MB. We welcome your suggestions and contributions to server you better.

May God Bless you

Fr. James M L CMI

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Homilies Navchetana is an initiative of Navchetana Communications, Bhopal, India. We have been sending the Sunday and daily homilies last four years. We are grateful to you for your cooperation and encouraging comments. Navchetana is committed to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ through modern media and performing arts. Through our Web TV, audio and video productions and stage programmes we take the Gospel message to the ends of the earth. Make a donation and be a part of this noble mission.


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