Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

Readings: Eccl 1:2; 2:21-23; Ps 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17; Col 3:1-5, 9-11; Lk 12:13-21

“A LONG LIFE MAY NOT BE GOOD ENOUGH,
BUT A GOOD LIFE IS DEFINITELY LONG ENOUGH”
Having Our Priorities Straight

  • It happened that there was a famous gambler who said: “I would do anything, even the devil’s work to see the lotto winning numbers ahead of the draw. I would become the richest man in the world.”Well, he got his wish.A messenger came to his door and handed him a newspaper dated one week ahead. Excited, the man turned to the page where the winning numbers were listed. There before his eyes were all the numbers that would entitle him to win millions of dollars. He was beside imagining himself what he would do with all the amount of money.

    But as he turned the pages, his heart skipped a beat. For there he saw his name printed in big, bold prints- in the obituary! On the day he wins all those millions, he will also die.Jesus understands our cravings for security, however, he wishes that we put that yearning in a proper perspective.

  • A certain rich man, who had never married, inherited a large amount of money at the age of 79. He consulted a number of friends who were investment bankers to know where best to invest his money so that he could get the best return. They suggested a number of different options, different companies. Despite all his money, he spent a lot of energy and time worrying about which would give him the most interest on his investment. Whilst he was doing this he died suddenly. Because he was always well off it never seemed to have occurred to him to share with people less well off.
  • King Midas was a very greedy king. Even though he was very rich he always craved for more and more.One day, he called his court magician and commanded, “Find me a spell that can get me more treasures than I already have.” The magician said, “Your majesty, I can give you a power that no one else in this world has. Anything that you touch will turn into gold”The king was delighted with his good fortune. Everything he touched turned into gold. He turned trees, grass, tables, chairs, flowers, and vases into gold. He thought that he must be the richest man in the world.But in the evening, when he sat down for supper, King Midas was dismayed. His food turned into gold the moment he touched it and he had to go to bed without any food!

    How­ever, King Midas was too greedy to be sad about it. The next morning, the king’s daughter ran to hug her father. But alas! The minute she kissed him, she turned into a gold statue! King Midas, who loved his daughter very much. was very sad and he ran to the magician for help. He cried, “Please help me, 0 Magician! I don’t want to be rich anymore. I only want my beloved daughter back.” The magician changed everything back to normal. King Midas had learnt his lesson and was never greedy again.

In our First Reading from the book of Ecclesiastes ( also known as Qoheleth), a book that was probably written between 380 B.C and 200 B.C. Solomon is regarded as the author of the book in keeping with the tradition that he is the source of Israel’s wisdom. We hear many times the short sentence “Vanity of vanities. All is vanity!” with regard to our today’s readings it reminds us that in comparison with the things of God, human endeavors are fleeting and insubstantial. (The word for “vanity” in the Hebrew language means, “vapor,” and thus the author of the book of Ecclesiastes gives us a vivid picture of human activity as amounting to nothing compared as water vapor that rises into the air and is quickly dispersed.) The passage selected in our Gospel today, as we have seen earlier goes on to apply this view even to the legitimate wealth gained by hard work. It becomes mysterious that death normally forces one who has toiled legitimately to vacate life and to leave the results of his toil to someone else, possibly to one who has not toiled at all.

In the Second Reading, Paul advises the Colossian converts that they must look for the things of heaven where Christ is. He wanted that all thoughts be centered on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth. He reminded the Colossian community that in Baptism they have become new persons as they have been raised with Christ. There we find the perfect image of God in Jesus who is the perfect pattern of life for us. He is our reason for continuously seeking an interior renovation in his image as the new man. Christ is the head of a new humanity, the Christian community. Through Him, all the social barriers no longer stand between the people. Races, cultures, or state of life no longer divide the people. There is no barrier in gender, male or female; in age, being young or old; in status, one being rich or poor; in medical conditions, one being healthy or sick, or even one being free or in prison. Christ breaks down such distinctions. He is all and in all. Christ is all that matters. Christ wants us to identify our understanding of life, our values, with those of God, which have been communicated to us by the life and words of Jesus. Now, since life does not consist in the abundance of possessions, we need to look for the spiritual life namely by accumulating spiritual treasures in Heaven. This can be done by our acts of love towards others, by our acts of charity, through the goodness that we manifest towards our neighbours in the love of Jesus. What we do to others, we do to Christ.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus refuses to get involved in a dispute regarding an inheritance between two brothers. He takes the opportunity to warn people against avarice or greed of any kind. Greed can become an idol because it consists in putting our trust in something other than God. Jesus is not talking only about material possessions. He is talking about anything that can become an idol for us. It might be drugs, drink, sex, work etc. Today computers and modern technology may take up so much of our time that we haven’t time to pray or go to Mass as we used to.

Jesus, who knew more about life than Qoheleth, in today’s Gospel seems to confirm his observations. The rabbis of his time were often consulted about civil affairs, especially inheritances. But despite the fact that Jesus was a new Moses and was the subject and about whom Moses had taught, he refused to hear the case about inheritance put before him. There were courts of law to settle secure matters; Jesus refused to get involved in them. Had the man before him seemed capable of perfection, Jesus would probably have said to him, “Give your share joyfully to your brother and follow me.”

Surely all of us have met people like the man in Jesus’ story – sometimes, sadly, he is ourselves. An anonymous author wrote:

First I was dying to finish high school and started college.
And then I was dying to finish college and start working.
And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough for school, so I could return to work.
And then I was dying to retire.
And now I am dying… and suddenly I realize
I forgot to live.

The man in Jesus’ story had the wrong priorities. The first was that he never saw beyond himself. His plan of life was a constant repetition of “I” and “my”. Contrary to his thinking, it’s been said that life’s five most important words are “I admit I was mistaken”; the four most important words are “What is your opinion?”; the three most important words are “If you please”; the two most important words are “Thank you”; and the one most important word is “You”. From many points of view, life’s least important word is “I”.

The man’s second wrong priority was that he never saw beyond this world. His whole basis of security was wealth. He believed in the modern axiom, “Money talks; learn its language.” The driving force today is, no less than in Jesus’ time, to build bigger and bigger barns. Upper management receive obscenely high salaries, while workers are laid off by the thousands. Big companies use bankruptcy laws to default on debts, which little persons have to pay. Corporations seem ruled by a dog-eat-dog philosophy which encourages people to climb over the bodies of others to reach the top.

The man in the Gospel was a rich man (v. 16) – one who people might say owned property, but in reality the property owned him. He never thought in terms of the later proverb, “There are no pockets in a shroud.” God called him a fool (v. 20). In the Sacred Scriptures, a fool is one who is “mindless” – even to the point of denying God’s existence. Thus, the psalmist said, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Ps 14:1).

Life’s Messages:

1) We are invited to share our blessings with others. The parable of the rich fool gives us a warning as well as an invitation. It reminds us that our possessions are merely loaned to us by God, and that we are accountable for their use. We must be generous in sharing our time, our treasure, and our talents in Christian stewardship. Even if we are poor financially, we may be blessed with intelligence, good will, a sense of humor or the ability to console, encourage, inspire and support and help others. God expects us to give our thanks to him for all these blessings by sharing them with others for his glory. The Old Testament Scriptures are clear about tithing – giving 10% of our income for God’s cause and for helping the needy. God never allows tithers to regret their generosity.

2) Let us control our greed. Our greed takes different shapes and forms. For some it may be the desire for the approval and praise of others. For others it is the uncontrolled desire for power, control or fame. For still others greed takes the form of excessive and sinful indulgence in eating, drinking, gambling, drugs or sexual activities. Greed also turns our life away from God and away from serving and loving him in other people. As greed directs all our energy and attention to fulfilling the self, its objects become our false gods, and they will consume us, unless we become rich in the sight of God. (COURTESY FR. TONY)

Money can buy a house, but not a home.

Money can buy a bed, but not sleep.

Money can buy a clock, but not time.

Money can buy a book, but not knowledge.

Money can buy food, but not an appetite.

Money can buy you friends but not love.

Money can buy position, but not respect.

Money can buy blood, but not life.

Money can buy insurance, but not safety.

Money can buy a Bible, but not a relationship with Jesus.

Money can buy religion, but not salvation.

Tips to overcome Greed:

Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share. — 1 Timothy 6:18

Greed — it has toppled highly paid executives, lured holy men and women, brought down giant corporations, and cost thousands of workers their jobs and retirement funds. One columnist has written that unrestrained worldly and corporate greed is a greater threat than terrorism.

Greed whispers in our ear that we would be happier if we had more money, more things, and more power. It creates discontent and a growing desire to do whatever it takes to gain position and possessions. But the Bible commands us to trust in God, not in “uncertain riches”(1 Timothy 6:17).

Paul told Timothy that the way to overcome greed is to flee from it and to”pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness”(1 Timothy 6:11). And those “who are rich in this present age,” who have more than is needed, should “be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share”(vv.17-18).

Contentment and generosity are the opposite of greed (vv.6-8). As we learn to thank God for what we have and freely share it with others, we stop trying to fill the spiritual vacuum in our heart with things. And when we love Jesus more than money and possessions, we find that he is the greatest treasure of our lives. We discover that knowing him is the source of genuine satisfaction.

God’s riches fill up our supply,

Whatever we may need,

So we can then be generous

And not controlled by greed. — Anon

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The best remedy for greed is generosity.

People are made to be loved and

Things are to be used

The confusion in this world is that

People are used and things are loved!!!

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“There is enough food in the world to satisfy every man’s need; but there is not enough wealth to satisfy every man’s greed” Mahatma Gandhi

 

Fr. Gaspar Fernandes, OFM Cap.

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