July 31, 2022
by Andy Alexander, S.J.
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 and 17
Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11
Luke 12:13-21

In the Jesuit world, this is the Feast of St. Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus.
Today is the final day of the Ignatian Year, remembering the 500th Anniversary
of Ignatius' being struck by a cannon ball, and beginning his conversion.

Homily of Pope Francis on this feast in 2013 | A brief bio of St. Ignatius | 10 min, Animated Video about Ignatius' story.

A Reflection on Ignatius by Andy Alexander, S.J.

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Praying Ordinary Time

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities!  All things are vanity!
- Ecclesiastes 1

If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory
. - Colossians 3

“Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
- Luke 12

Today's readings offer the grace of a powerful re-alignment of our lives - not focused on "what is on earth," but on our life which is "hidden with Christ in God."

Jesus is faced with an all too common family dispute: “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” One might expect Jesus to say, "Tell your brother to come here and I'll straighten him out." Instead, Jesus says, "Take care to guard against all greed." Jesus goes right to the heart of the issue - greed.

The Meriam-Webster dictionary defines "greed" as "a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (such as money) than is needed." Jesus is urging us to guard against something deeper and more dangerous, by crafting a story about a fellow who's had a very good year. He is fortunate to have more grain than he can store. He asks himself the question, "What shall I do?" He decides to build a bigger barn to store up this fortune for himself, to surely take care of his security for a long time.

The fortunate fellow missed two other answers to his question. "What shall I do?" He could have answered, "I have more than I need. I'll share my good fortune with someone who didn't have such a good year." He could have answered, "I'll give thanks to God, and focus on God's goodness to me, and ask for the grace to be freer, more trusting in God's love, so that I will fill my barn, share the rest, and 'be rich in what matters to God.'"

The tragedy of the story, as Jesus tells it, is that the man would die that night and his plans for a secure future turn out to be foolish.

Jesus is alerting us to guard against losing perspective about the meaning of our lives. Accumulation of wealth and security, without being focused on our relationship with God, and the needs of our brothers and sisters, will never lead us to the happiness it seems to promise. Greed is, by its very nature, ironically self-distructive.

This Sunday's readings offer us a wonderful opportunity to re-align our perspective. What is it that I cling to? Perhaps it is material possessions, and their associated status, and sign of success. Perhaps it is holding on to security in other ways. Perhaps it is a deep reluctance to share what I have, freely. A friend recently shared with me, with a smile, how her grandchild is at the stage of grabbing everything and claiming it as "mine." Sometimes it is humbling to realize, as adults, that we are still claiming way too much as "mine." Generosity comes from gratitude and freedom. We've all had the experience that when we were blessed to share to help someone else, we were richly rewarded by the experience.

The ultimate freedom is experienced when our lives are humbly placed with Jesus, in God. That's where we'll find happiness and real self-fulfillment. Surrender, and traveling this road of life with a lighter load of "possessions," trusting in the mystery of God's love for us, is tremendously freeing and the source of our happiness here, and for all eternity.

Dear Lord, Jesus, set me free from whatever I cling to. Let me see all the blessings you have given me are meant for me to join you in building up your Kingdom of Love and self-sacrificing communion with others. As St. Ignatius prayed, "Give me only your love and your grace, and I will be rich enough, and ask for nothing more."

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