MONDAY HOMILY: Strive to be rich in what matters to God
Understanding that the goods of the earth are meant to lead us to the Good
SUGAR LAND, TX (Catholic Online) "Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15).
In today's Gospel, St. Luke relates two examples of misguided self-interest. St. Luke relates an encounter with Christ to encourage us to order our lives rightly. The Christian must learn to trust in God's providence, to be vigilant, and to strive to root one's life in the things of God, rather than what pertains only to this life.
"Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me" (Luke 12: 13). What a wasted opportunity! If we could ask the Lord for anything at all, would this be our request? This man could have asked Christ for the gift of faith, or for the grace of discipleship. He could have asked for wisdom or insight, to be able to resolve his problems with charity and justice.
Instead, this man's sights are set on a human injustice that he has suffered. Christ does not dispute the rightness or wrongness of his complaint. Instead, the Lord shows us that this misguided single-mindedness can blind one to the greater good. This man approaches Christ as an arbitrator not as a teacher, much less a savior.
Everyone experiences unfair situations. No one is exempt from conditions that seem to be injurious, inequitable or unethical. Nevertheless, these moments can help to purify us, assisting us to seek the grace of conversion that will preserve us from covetousness and greed. We should not give up the effort to bring about just resolutions to our problems. Nevertheless, we must always guard our hearts, so that they remain rooted in what is eternal.
St. Augustine wrote, "Covetousness desires to divide, just as charity desires to gather together." Even if this man had a just cause, his first desire should have been seeking righteousness before God, and finding a way - through his encounter with the Lord - to live in charity with his brother despite the difficulty of his situation.
There follows the parable of the rich fool. In this story, Christ gives us a commentary on the prior conversation. He relates a tale of someone who is surrounded by wealth but who is blind to charity.
"What shall I do?" asks the man of the parable. His wealth is a cause of anxiety because he is only thinking about himself. He does not seem to consider that his wealth has a purpose other than his possession of it. He is distressed because his wealth has become the measure of his life's worth.
His anxiety would have been alleviated if this man had used his wealth for a good purpose. "Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves. with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Luke 12:33, 34).
With his heart set upon his material wealth, it is no wonder that this man ...
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