Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary 473. Oct. 18th. Though this is the feast of St.
Luke, the following reflection is based on the continuous readings for the
29th week of the year. We have a selection from Luke that shows his own
theology about riches encased within the incident we have in the journey
narrative of chapter 12;13-21. This fits in with the teachings of Jesus
throughout this longer section of chapter 9:51-19:44. Luke always is
helping us to think about how to use our talents as well as our wealth (if
we are lucky enough to have some wealth) within the bigger picture of life
as a disciple of Jesus. We are not only on the road up to Jerusalem; we are
also on our way to the ultimate goal of our lives–union with God.
At the end of our pericope for this day, Jesus asks a question of all of
us, “How does one grow rich in the sight of God?” Perhaps, the incident
given to us about the man asking Jesus to act as an arbiter in the
distribution of the family’s inheritance now in the hands of his brother.
Jesus says he is not a judge in such matters nor is he called to settle
such things. He moves on as usual, by using the experience with this
demand, as a moment for teaching all of us about riches in the sight of God
compared to the way we look at them. To do this he gives us another
parable, his favorite way of teaching. Exempla trahunt, that is , good
examples attract our attention and help us to get the point.
Jesus is addressing the crowd not just the individual who asked him to
decide about the inheritance. That shows us the universalism of Luke as
well as the spiritual practical teaching of Jesus. We are to act prudently
with the use of our finances but we are not just to use them for ourselves
and our own building of better and bigger bins for storing our wealth. For
most of us, the example is far-fetched when it comes to our having wealth
but there is that spiritual nuance that hits all of us. How do we use our
wealth of talent, time, and our limited resources? And do this in the
sight of God. Now there is the point of the parable–seeing the
limitations of our lives while realizing that God knows the length of our
days. The rich man in the parable is not prudent for he leaves out God. All
is for himself and building better and bigger barns for the great harvests
he is enjoying. He thinks he can now relax, drink, be merry, have fine
foods, and enjoy life. His spiritual goals are not anywhere mentioned. He
lacks the bigger picture of realizing God does have a role in our lives
even in our financial resources. How are they best used? Are we aware of
the needs of others whom we could help without hurting our own well being?
Yes, both Jesus and Luke have great concerns about the way wealth is used.
Luke’s community and church seems to have been rather affluent. He has
concerns about this just as Jesus had when asked by the man to settle a
money problem or inheritance of land with his brother. Certainly, prudent
planning and awareness of how much one can really give to the well-being of
others is of importance for seeing how we stand in the sight of God. We
need to plan carefully, make budgets, and continue to be concerned about
the political issues that touch upon the education of children, the concern
for the elderly, and the needs of the poor and homeless. These are part of
the spiritual part of being rich in the sight of God. We are to measure our
wealth and our talents and time in the light of the beatitudes–whether the
short list of Luke or the longer list of Matthew. Amen.