18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:21-23
Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17
Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11
A person comes to Jesus with a request, to tell his brother to share the inheritance with me. Jesus seems to brush off the question. Jesus isn’t interested in “inheritance.”
Now one might ask isn’t inheritance about family? Isn’t family about relationships? Doesn’t Jesus tell us to love our neighbors?
The man doesn’t ask Jesus to help the family get along and help each other. The man asks for a share of the inheritance. The man is concerned about material things. Jesus’ advice? He tells the crowd to “take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
What makes you rich? What makes you happy? What brings you fulfillment in life?
Are material things important? They can be. We need a place to live. We need food to eat and clothing to wear. A car can be important to get around but do these things dictate our life? Do they determine what our life is worth?
They can occupy our time. We need to be smart about our purchases to get good, dependable stuff at a fair price but having these things should never be for greed or pride. If we purchase for greed, we get more than we need to have more. Or we do so just to be able to brag about what we have, which would be pride.
What does it get us?
Jesus tells us the parable of the rich man who had such a great harvest that his barns could not store it all. What did he do with the excess? He built bigger barns to store it all and figured he was set for life.
Set for life? What life?
The store of grain would help him be set for physical food and that is nice. What about eternal life? Did the store of grain do anything to nourish the man’s soul? Did it do anything for his salvation?
The man died that night. The store of grain did him no good. It went as inheritance to someone else. Maybe it went to family that was important to him.
The man spent his life focused on earthly things rather than what is above. God was not part of his decision of what to do with the bountiful harvest.
Is God part of your decision making about what to do with your material possessions?
What does it mean for God to be part of our decision about material possessions? After all, when the man asked Jesus to tell his brother to share the inheritance, Jesus didn’t seem interested.
Jesus doesn’t care if we have a red car or a blue car. Jesus is interested if we spend all that we have to buy a car with things we don’t need and have nothing left to help others.
With the man with abundant harvest, the man was blessed by God with an abundant harvest. What he had in abundance he could have shared with others in need instead of keeping more than he needed for himself.
I have worked with some young couples who wait to get married and start a family until they establish their careers. On the surface this might sound great but is it what really happens or does your career then dictate your whole life? For instance, one might say they will work long hours just to get started but then do the long hours ever go away?
If we look only at today, things like food and a home take priority. If we look at eternity, then God takes on a lot more importance.
People can talk about the importance of material things in providing for their families so it might seem like children could just make material things all the more important. Then, with children also comes football, soccer, plays, etc. that compete for our time against church. Yet, sometimes when people have been away from the church, it is precisely when their children begin to grow and learn that they come back to church, wanting their children to know about God. So, material possessions are not all we need.
When you leave today will God be part of your decisions? Will God be a priority in setting direction in your life?