July 31, 2016
by Maureen McCann Waldron
Retired from Creighton University's Collaborative Ministry Office
click here for photo and information about the writer

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 114

Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23
Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17
Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11
Luke 12:13-21
Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’

My husband and I have saved for retirement for many years, but now that I have reached that milestone, I find myself pausing a little at today’s gospel message about “storing up the harvest.”   Jesus tells the parable about a rich man with a better-than-expected harvest.  How can he hang onto all of it?  Only by making more room to store it.  So his plan is to tear down his current barns and build bigger ones so he can then sit back and “eat, drink and be merry.”

Yet the real challenge of the parable does not seem to be whether or not we have been good stewards of our resources but what place in our lives that success has – and what we would we do to hang onto it.  The man is already wealthy and Jesus does not begrudge the man his bountiful harvest.  It is the rich man’s reaction to his unexpected windfall that is the point.  His first instinct is greed; he does not share it with those who have less but plans to hoard it in new barns.

Money is not the issue, and, as Pope Francis said,” Money contributes greatly to many good works for the development of the human race.”  But, he notes the real problem is a distorted use of money, attachment and greed.  As Jesus cautions today, “Take heed and beware of all covetousness.”

“How many families have we seen destroyed by problems over money: brother against brother; father against sons?,” Pope Francis asked.  “When a person is attached to money he destroys himself, he destroys his family.”

Around the world today Jesuit schools, missions and communities will celebrate the Memorial of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus.  St. Ignatius cautioned that “a longing for riches” leads us to “more easily come to vain honor of the world, and then to vast pride.”

St. Ignatius perceptively named the failings of our human nature and how easily we slip into greed and the dangers of wealth.  Our fears about being secure in the future and our unwillingness to trust in God can prevent us from sharing what resources we have.

Psalm 90 tells us, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart,” we are told.  “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” 

The letter to the Colossians reminds us to put less focus on our lives here and to “seek what is above … not what is on earth.”

“One’s life does not consist of possessions,” Jesus cautions, and yet how easily I can forget that.  My own riches, honors and pride, my own need for success, can lead me to become too busy to listen to God’s voice in my life each day. 

Loving God, help me to slow down and listen to your voice in my heart today.  Let me not be distracted by the greed of riches, honors or pride but simply to open my heart to your word. Let me see those around me as gifts from you in my life.  I beg you for the spirit of generosity that allows me to share what I have with those who have less - in my wealth and my time.

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