18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel is one of those challenging Gospels which we might be tempted to gloss over; and we might be tempted to gloss over it for two different reasons: the first reason might be that we so very familiar with the Scripture passage.  “Oh, yeah, the one about the guy with the barn, who builds a bigger barn and gets rebuked.  I know this one.”  It is so easy to hear a Gospel passage that we are familiar with and almost tune it out because we know the story and have heard it so many times.  We have to fight against that temptation if it comes.  Even if we have heard the same passage a thousand times we can always gain new insight; Our Lord can always speak to our hearts, if our hearts are open to Him.  Scripture is the living Word of God.  The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of the Sacred Scriptures and He continues to speak to us through them today.

The second temptation to not really hear what Our Lord is saying, and the more dangerous one, is we might not want to hear what He is saying to us.  Today’s Gospel message is not an easy one to hear.  We hear of a rich man, who rejoiced in his riches; he rejoiced until he heard God tell Him: “You fool!”  The Hebrew word for “fool” used by God there is one of the strongest negative words in all of Scripture: it is a very forceful rebuke. Our Lord then goes on to say: “Thus will it be for all who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”

Let us make a quick distinction: it is not money, or wealth, or possessions that are evil.  Money is just a thing: in itself, it is neutral.  Scripture tells us that it is the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evils.  Having lots of things isn’t wrong, being inordinately attached to our possessions is.  Why is the love of money so bad?  Part of the reason is that when we have wealth it is easy to become attached to it.  God can easily become crowded out of our lives by our possessions.  When we have lots of things, we have lots of things to worry about.  All that attention paid to our stuff can distract us from God.  Another danger is that when all of our needs are provided for it can become easy to feel self-sufficient and forget that we rely upon God for everything.  When someone is in dire need, it is very easy for him or her to turn to God: they have nowhere else to turn.  When things are comfortable, it can be easier to forget God and only focus on the things that we have right in front of us.

All of this is not to say that rich people are bad and poor people are good.  Poor people can just as easily fall into the same attachments.  The poor can have just as much love of money as others, even if they don’t have any money.  There are also many people who are well off who are very generous and detached from their wealth.  What we have or do not have isn’t the heart of the question.  The issue is whether we are attached to what we have or not.  Do we recognize our reliance upon God?  Do we thank Him for all the good things that we have?  Are we good stewards of the gifts that He has given to us?  Do we do our part to assist the poor?

We need to make sure that we are not merely storing up earthly treasures for ourselves; we need to be rich, Our Lord says, “in what matters to God.”  What matters to God?  Think about the two greatest commandments: love God above everything and love your neighbor as yourself.  Love is what matters to God.  God is love and He wants us to become more and more like Him.  He wants us to love others, not things.  God has given us all the good things that we have.  He does not give us His gifts so that we can hoard them away.  He gives us good things so that we can use them and share them with others.  God gives us the gift of faith, not only for ourselves, but also so that we can share our faith with others.  God gives us money, so that we can provide for ourselves, our families and also for those who go without.

Do not forget where the good things that you have came from.  Saint Paul asks: “What do you have that you have not received as a gift?”  The answer is nothing.  Everything that we have, we have received and we are called to be good stewards of the gifts that God has given to us.

We have to be aware of our dependence upon God, lest we take Him, and the gifts that He has given to us, for granted.  We need to remind ourselves often it is God Who gives us all good things.  When we approach our Creator, we all come as beggars before our King.  God has given everything that we have to us.  He gives us our life; our every breath is a gift from God.  Scripture says that “In Him we live and move and have our being.”  There is nothing that we can even offer to God that He has not given to us.  Even if we offer back to Him all that we have and all that we are, we are only returning to Him what He has given to us in the first place.  When we offer things to God, we are like a child that buys a gift for a parent with money given to the child by the parent.  We could not even praise God if He did not give us the grace to know Him.

Let us be good stewards of the gifts that God has given to us.  Let us offer back to Him all that we possess and all of our hearts.  Our being is incomplete if God is not the center of our hearts.  Our hearts are restless until they rest in God.  Let us not allow our possessions distract us from our hearts deepest desire: our desire for God.

Lord, help us to love you above all things and help us to love our neighbors as ourselves for love of You.  May we always remember to thank you for all that You have given to us.  May our possessions never become an obstacle to our union with You, but may we always use our time, treasure, and talents for Your greater glory and honor.  Amen.