– 31-07-2016 –
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary time
vs.13 A man in the crowd said to Jesus, “Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.”
vs.14 “My friend,” he replied, “who appointed me your judge, or the arbitrator of your claims?”
vs.15 Then he said to them, “Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more then he needs.”
vs.16 Then he told them a parable: “There was once a rich man who, having had a good harvest from the land,
vs.17 thought to himself, ‘What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops.’
vs.18 Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them,
vs.19 and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time.’
But God said to him, ‘Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?’
vs.21 So it is when a man stores up treasure for himself in place of making himself rich in the sight of God.
We have four commentators available from whom you may wish to choose .
Michel DeVerteuil : A Trinidadian Holy Ghost Priest, director of the Centre of Biblical renewal .
Thomas O’Loughlin: Professor of Historical Theology, University of Wales, Lampeter.
Sean Goan: Studied scripture in Rome, Jerusalem and Chicago and teaches at Blackrock College and works with Le Chéile.
Donal Neary SJ: Editor of The Sacred Heart Messenger
Michel de Verteuil
Lectio Divina The Year of Luke
General Textual comments
The passage is in several sections:
– verses 13 and 14: a dialogue between Jesus and the man;
– verse 15: a teaching on avarice;.
– verses 16 to 21: a parable with its explanation.
If you decide to meditate on the dialogue, you can identify with Jesus, the leader who refuses to play games with people,
or the man, whom we will recognise as ourselves when we pray (or relate with people) from self-interest.
The teaching on avarice is imaginative, as Jesus’ teachings always are. You might like to ask
yourself who has been Jesus in your life.
The parable has two moments, each of which can unveil reality to you. There is the moment
when the man decided to build bigger barns, and the one when God called him. This second
moment has two aspects: his souls was demanded of him, and he had to face the question, “This
hoard of yours, whose will it be?”
The brief interpretation in verse 21 seems simple at first reading, but personal meditation
can reveal how deep it really is.
Lord, forgive us for the times when we make prayer
an occasion for getting you to tell our brothers
to give us a share of our inheritance,
as if you were some kind of high court judge or arbitrator of our claims.
“The ultimate purpose of trade and industry is to serve our fellow human beings by creating goods and services to meet their needs.” …George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury
Lord, we pray that your Church may always be the voice of Jesus in our modern world,
challenging our contemporaries to watch and be on their guard
against avarice of any kind,
and reminding them that our lives are not made secure by what we own,
even when we have more than we need.
“Materialism has failed as an ideology in the East, but it has certainly triumphed as a matter of practice in the West.“ … President Havel of Czechoslovakia
Lord, we thank you for those few world leaders who are the voice of Jesus in our day,
calling us to watch and be on our guard against avarice of every kind.
The continued greed of the wealthy nations will certainly call down on them the wrath of the poor, with consequences no one can foretell.” … Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio
Lord, the wealthy nations of the world have had good harvests from their land,
they have pulled down their barns and built bigger ones,
storing their grain and their goods in them.
They think that they have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come
and so they can take things easy, drink and have a good time.
But the time will surely come when the poor nations of the world
will demand to be treated as members of the human family,
and that great hoard of goods, whose will it be then?
“The Cross is the power of truth. It exposes the ultimate futility of relationships based on fear, manipulation and violence.“ …Bishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle
Lord, we remember a time when something terrible happened to us
– a death in the family;
– we were humiliated in front of our friends;
– we discovered how jealous we were.
Truly our souls were being demanded of us.
We realized then that we are not made secure by what we own,
that the treasures we store up for ourselves are really worthless.
We thank you that at that moment we felt poor and very vulnerable,
but also very rich because we knew that you looked on us with love.
“Hell is not to love any more.” …Dorothy Day
Lord, the worst experience in the whole world
is to have a demand made for our souls
and then to realize that we have stored up treasures for ourselves
in place of making ourselves rich in your sight.
“By admitting death into our lives we enlarge and enrich them.” …Etty Hillesum, Jewish woman who died in a concentration camp, 1943
Lord, remind us always of that dread moment when you will say to us:
“This very night demand will be made of your soul.”
When our horizons are not limited by the big barns
in which we have stored our grain and all our goods,
we can become truly rich.
“We cannot allow the politicians to cloud our vision and promote their disruptive policies, as it would lead to our destruction.” Lloyd Best, Trinidad economist
Lord, help us to stand up to leaders whose main interest is building big barns
in which to store all their grain and goods,
thinking they have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come,
when all the time they are destroying the tolerance
that has made us a wealthy nation in your sight.
Liturgical Resources for the Year of Luke
Introduction to the Celebration
My friends in Christ, our culture is one where sudden death rarely visits us and where we are encouraged to place our trust in material wealth as never before. But today and everyday we have the stark reminder that this world is passing. A moment will come when this life is no more. It is that moment that calibrates our value system of what is true wealth: a vast hoard of money, or riches in God’s sight. Let us reflect on our values, on where we place our trust, and ask for mercy.
This passage, the parable of the Rich Fool, is found only in Luke’s gospel, but draws together some basic elements from the Wisdom tradition on the foolishness of placing final trust in the security of material possession. This wisdom tradition is more sophisticated than the proverbial ‘You can’t take it with you’ or There are no pockets in shrouds’ which could be simply be a variant on ‘Eat, drink, for tomorrow we will be dead’ (cf 1 Cc 15:32). Rather the purpose of the wisdom is that one moment one can have control over one’s environment or that it brings long-term security. In the face of the contingency of human life, and of matter, the wise person has to place their long-term trust in God.
1. Going to extremes is always easy; and preaching extremes has an elegant simplicity as every demagogue knows. Striking a balance and acting with wisdom and prudence is more difficult and more tiring. Today we have to reflect on one of these tensions: between possessing in this life, and having’ treasure in the Sight of God’. The tension can be expressed in any number of ways: between care of this life and care of the life to come; having concern for the creation and concern for eternity. It is the great ‘either / or’ of umpteen sermons.
2. But this gospel avoids making one extreme the position of Jesus. The one who has gone to the extreme is the man in the parable. He is a fool because he has concentrated on the earthly at the expense of the heavenly.
3. Let us think about the extremes for a moment. One extreme is to be so wholly focused on heaven that one is ‘no earthly use’. The other extreme is to be so enmeshed in material pursuits that one becomes just another material object. The first gives away everything, but human poverty might be just as great after this extreme gesture as before. The other is indifferent to human suffering and poverty, and the world is as badly off after that person as before.
4.The really difficult calling of the whole church and of each of us individually is to embrace the tension, and seek to wisely judge between extremes each day. This is not only the wisdom of prudence, but it is more difficult because it calls on us to think about situations carefully, and it is tiring for we have to keep at the task day-in and day-out.
5. We have to find the balances between:
Love of Self / Love of Others
Appreciating the material creation/Knowing its limited existence
Service to neighbour / Prayer and Reflection
Enjoying God’s gifts/Fasting
Liturgy as ritual/Liturgy as working for justice
‘Both-and’ is more demanding than ‘either-or’
6. The ecological movement has a great slogan: ‘Think Global; Act Local.’ We as Christians can wholly endorse the idea: we have to keep the big picture in mind (the creation comes from God and is returning to him – that is our version of ‘Thinking global’); but while we are within the process of living in this world, we have to pay careful attention to the demands for our responsible action that are close to hand (action in the creation here and now is our’ Acting local’).
7. It would be useful if Christians could come up with a slogan to go alongside ‘Think Global; Act Local’; the best I can think of is: ‘Think of Heaven; Work on Earth’ – perhaps your assembly could come up with a really snappy slogan.
Let the Reader Understand
At the start of this gospel text Jesus refuses to get involved in a family squabble over an inheritance. It is not his role to be a legislator; his role is to proclaim the vision of God’s kingdom and in the parable which he tells we see the connection between the problem he was asked to solve and that kingdom, for it is on the theme of greed or avarice. The man in the story is troubled because he might not be able to take full advantage of the harvest he has enjoyed. In his discussion with himself it is interesting to notice how many times the words ‘I’ and ‘my’ are found. He is totally self-obsessed and so excludes God and neighbour in his reasoning. In this situation he is not prepared for the ultimate reality, his own death. Jesus points to the meaning of the parable by contrasting the idea of building up riches for oneself with that of being rich in what matters most: one’s relationship with God.
Do Paul and the wise man in Ecciesiastes have anything in common? Well it could be said that neither of them thinks much of the world the way it is. However, that’s where their agreement ends. For Ecclesiastes this means that his motto could well be ‘Why bother?’ Paul, on the other hand, knows that God doesn’t want the world the way it is either and that’s why a new creation has been initiated through Christ. So for Paul there is all the reason in the world to bother. God in Christ invites us to put on a new self and live life to the full. The man in the gospel who only wants to build barns for his wealth is a sad reflection for much of today’s world. If only we could learn to want what God wants and devote ourselves to that, what a different place the world would be.
4. Donal Neary S.J.
Gospel reflections for Year C: Luke
Rich in whose sight?
— Love not wealth —
You can look around a lot and the gospel today makes sense. It points at how we can get caught up in what we own and what people have. It’s about possessions and how they take us over- or how we react when we lack what we once had. We enjoy wealth but we have a mixed reaction to it.
Saint Ignatius mentioned three obstacles to our faith -wealth,
honour, pride. He saw from his own experience that people wanted wealth so that they would be highly thought of
– it can be the right school,
– the right address,
– the right bank.
We have pride in what we have, but as we know, things can change very quickly. Shares go down; you may become ill or die.
The battle is between being rich in the sight of the world and being rich in the sight of God.
The opposites of these obstacles are simplicity, integrity, and humility. Humility is pride in who we are – children of God, brothers and sisters to each other, and accepting ourselves just as we are. We need nothing outside of ourselves to make us feel good about ourselves. This too is simplicity.
What we have is a gift, given to us for the good of the world, the community, the neighbourhood, not just for the good of the self.
And in the end, what matters is that we are judged on love not on wealth. Or if we have had wealth, we will be judged on what we did with it. It can lead us away from God very easily. Do we live like him? Be rich in God – in mercy, love, forgiveness and justice.
may your kingdom of justice and peace
come on earth.