Readings: Ecc 1:2,2:21-23; Col 3:1-5,9-11; Lk 12:13-21
Guarding against greed and putting our security in God help us to focus on the central message of this Sunday readings. You probably have heard the story of the American travelling through Europe and decided to visit a famous wise Rabbi who lived there. When he arrived at his home, the tourist was surprised to see how simply the Rabbi lived – in a single room with only books, a table and chair. “Rabbi” the tourist asked, “where is your furniture?” The Rabbi responded, “Where is yours?” The tourist responded, “my furniture? I’m only passing through here.” The wise Rabbi responded, “So am I.” I tell this story because the readings challenge us to put our security in God and not in possessions. The writer of the first reading highlights the point in saying that all things are vanity!” Yes, ALL stuff. The reading helps us to take a good look at what really matters in life. The concern for things is vanity, like the smoke or the mist that evaporate and disappear so quickly. Paul in the second reading, reminds us why we must choose the values of the gospel. "If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above....Think of what is above, not what is on earth." In other words, Christ and not stuff or one-self is the highest possession we can have.
The parable of the rich fool in the Gospel comes after someone in the crowd asks Jesus to intervene in a family inheritance dispute. Jesus first makes comments on the dangers of greed: “Take care to guard again all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” He then tells a parable that touches on the real issue in the heart of that person – greed. Jesus in the gospel is referring to greed that leads to building false security only on stuff for one’s happiness and comfort.
Jesus’ teaching on greed is addressed to all of us: adults, youth and children. Last summer while on vacation I observed my six and four year old grandnieces fighting daily over toys, iPads and the TV remote. One day I asked my eldest niece, “who will use your toys and iPad when you die?” She simply burst into tears as she ran upstairs to her bed. I had touched a hot button in her. None of us want to be reminded of the shortness of our lives, but that is the truth. As one nine year old parishioner recently reminded us adults that “Life is worth more than stuff.” The point of the parable is clearly that possessions do not guarantee life. Indeed they may make us so blind that we do not see what really matters most in life – that is greed. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) All three readings point to the lesson that there is more to life than stuff. The story of the wise Rabbi is a clear example that there is nothing wrong with living a simple life because we are just passing through here! 2) The readings suggest that we must stop building bigger barns and place our priorities on what matter most in life. In the words of Mother Teresa, that means accepting the challenge to “live simply so that others may simply live.”
2016 John S. Mbinda