Homily (Reflection) for the Eighteenth Sunday of the Year, (C) (31st July, 2016) on the Gospel
Eccl 1:2; 2:21-23;Ps 89:3-6.12-14.17 (R.v.1) or Ps 94:1-2.6-9. (R.vv.7-8);
It is good to have targets. They can either be good or bad. Attainment of every target goes with a sense of fulfilment. However they always open other targets. It is like selecting the gear of a vehicle. It is always one after another until one reaches his/her destination.
Topic: What next?
The case presented to Jesus in today’s gospel by one of His listeners was one of such questions that were presented before great rabbis to settle. Jesus’ response resembles that of one with the intention to avoid the question. In the Introduction to the New Testament examination, the students were asked to write on Saint John the Baptist. One student began this way, “Who am I and what is my lineage that I should write on this great saint, John the Baptist? I am not worthy, cf. 2Sam 7: 18, Matt 3:11 I therefore humbly want to write on Saint John the evangelist”. This student tried to avoid the question because he did not prepare for it but in this case, Jesus used the opportunity to address a higher issue; the attitude of Christians towards wealth.
It is important to note that the problem of the rich man was not in what his land produced but in his failure to recognize any other person other than himself and any other world other than his own. He was very much preoccupied with himself as expressed in the use of the pronouns, I and my. These exclude both God and neighbours.
… I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.
The Psalmist wrote, “A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save” (Ps 33:16-17). The rich man did not live to see his soul “relax, eat, drink, and merry” as he proposed because his owner and all he had called. The last two verses of today’s gospel call for serious meditation: “…You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God”.
The commentary in Life Application Study Bible: New Living Translation reads, “The rich man in Jesus’ story died before he could begin to use what was stored in his big barns. Planning for retirement – preparing for life before death – is wise, but neglecting life after death is disastrous. If you accumulate wealth only to enrich yourself, with no concern for helping others, you will enter eternity empty-handed” (NLT, p.1713).
As one plans for tomorrow, it is wise to put God and neighbours into consideration. There is a story of a man who had so much on earth. As he was escorted to his abode in heaven after his life on earth, his guardian angel introduced him to a number of things and places in heaven. One of these was a very big mansion belonging to one of his stewards. With this in mind, he was expecting another paradise within paradise but behold the angel stopped at a very small hut with grasses for the roof and said to him, “This is your own dwelling”. He immediately objected and asked the angel to check well. The angel told him that despite all he had on earth, he never stored up treasure in heaven.
We must always remember that we are on transit. As we meet our targets in this life, what about the world to come? Nobody can take anything out of this world except the good things one did for others, cf. Rev 14:13.
Bible Reading: Matt 6:19-34. 25:31-46; Lk 11:37-54. 16:1-13.
Thought for today: There is life after death.
Let us pray: God, help us store treasures in heaven where they can truly be treasures and ours – Amen.
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