Today’s Gospel: Luke 12:13-21
Memorial of Saints John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs
Like most people, I am concerned about hanging onto things. I like to feel that my house is secure, my car is locked, and that my phone and computer are password-protected. What I have today, I would like to have tomorrow.
To some degree, that is just good stewardship. If you are blessed enough to have things that you enjoy, they should be secured and cared for. The problem is when we cross the line from stewardship to an unhealthy focus on materialism. Are we so fond of our possessions that our happiness depends on them? Do we focus more on them than we do our friends and family? Do we become anxious because we want something that we can’t afford?
How about when your focus on wealth and possessions filters the way you view others? I often catch myself judging others based on my opinion about their wealth. For example, I live adjacent to a very affluent neighborhood. As I go for walks or drive through the neighborhood, I’ll sometimes look at a large, opulent house and think to myself that it is gauche or over the top. I fall into that trap of thinking that people that have more than me have too much. The point is that it’s not my business what someone else has. It could easily be that the person with the house that I find opulent lives more within their means than I do, is more attentive to their family than I am, and does more for the poor than I do. To me, the difference between my financial status and that person a few blocks over may seem vast. If I can put myself in the shoes of a person who has no house, little or no money, and may or may not have food on any given day, I would see very little difference at all.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges us on these issues. It starts when a young man in the crowd where Jesus is preaching says, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” Jesus replies, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” He then looks at the crowd and reminds them, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
Jesus follows this with the Parable of the Rich Fool. This is a story of a wealthy man whose harvest exceeded his capacity for storage. He tore down all his barns and built ones that were large enough to store his entire harvest. He was quite pleased with himself, thinking that he was set for life.
That night, God spoke to him. “You fool,” he said, “this is the night your life will be demanded of you, and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?”
That admonition applies to both the selfish and the envious. At some point, our lives will be demanded of us. All those things that we desired and those we possessed and clung to will remain. To whom will they belong?
What did Jesus really mean when he said, “Who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”
Lord, I pray that I will always show good stewardship and proper appreciation for all that I have been given.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Kirk Whitney