“You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” (Luke 12: 20)
The man had amassed more grain than he could store. So he tore down the old barns to build cavernous silos to hold his expanding wealth. Soon even the new structures will fall short. The race to riches creates many kinds of destruction along the way. Factories are closed, water reserves are depleted, and species vanish in droves. The destruction does not end there. Jesus warns the crowd not to neglect the treasure that they already possess. We are the riches made by God. The man absorbed in wealth had forgotten who he was: a creature dwelling on earth for a while who is loved by God for eternity.
The rich man stares back at us in the mirror. I am the fool who forgets what it means to be mortal. St. Paul calls the deadness that creeps over us “following the age of this world.” Deadness takes many forms: anxiety, bitterness, self-destruction, greed, contempt for the poor, violence, and isolation. We wake in the morning but a new day just signifies more of the same. The beauty of the world has retreated. Words no longer reveal the mystery that exists in persons; words just fill the space between us. The big picture of crisis overwhelms us. We hear the chatter of news stories and grow cynical. Action seems pointless. We forget that we are in this mess together.
Every life tells a salvation story. It didn’t just happen once with the death and resurrection of Jesus. Salvation continues: we sink into a pit and the world disappears. We come back from the dead and possibilities are visible all around. Language is restored to its richness. We do not return to life through our own efforts alone. The burden that is my existence is lifted off my shoulders. God shares with us the secret of being poor in spirit. We are set free to struggle for justice with praise in our heart.
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