Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The gospel has been spelling out recently what it means to be a Christian, a disciple of Christ. A disciple is one who when he starts to plow the field does not look back. A disciple helps the one in need, not just the one who is from his country or the one he likes. A disciple is one who prays and speaks to God as his father, his Daddy. And today we go a step further and speak about how a disciple handles riches and material things.
The Hebrew word that we hear about from this wise man in the first reading sounds like the word, bubble, which is very appropriate. Material things and much of what we work for everyday are a mist, or a breath, a vanity that are here one day and gone the next. They are a bubble which will one day be popped, and then poof, it is gone. The problem with possessions is that they can possess us.
Imagine this brother in the gospel (Luke 12: 13-21) who is fighting with his brother. What is your first reaction? My reaction is to tell that cheap brother to share the inheritance. What he is doing is unjust. But think about it for a minute. This man interrupts Jesus’ preaching to ask him for help to get more money. What is the heart of the problem? Both brothers are greedy; they want more. There are weeds growing in their hearts. Jesus cannot give them a solution unless they change. Either the older brother shares or the one we see today says to himself: my relation with my brother is more important than money. Let him take what he wants.
How many families today are destroyed by greed, this desire for more? It can choke one from hearing the Word of God. One’s life does not consist in possessions, Jesus says. But we all act as if it does.
And what is your reaction to the man in the parable? Maybe you said like I did, too bad he didn’t have enough time to finish his project, or how shrewd of him to build bigger barns or buy a bigger company. But the tragedy is not what he left behind but what is before him: an eternity without God, perhaps. What did his money and possessions mean for him now?
He was hoarding perishable crops. Imagine, building bigger barns for something that was perishable. He gave nothing to the Lord or to the Church or to the poor. He was planning to fill his belly. The bellies of the poor are much safer store rooms than his barns. Brothers and sisters, build for yourselves treasure in heaven that no one can take away.
What would you do if you won the lottery or made a big windfall in business or in the stock market? Would it create a problem for you as it does for most? A Christian would praise God and then ask him what should I do with all of this? God will tell you.
Jesus says to the man, “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you.” Yes this night he will die, but it also means what will “his life” show the Lord. And what about your kife and mine; were your barns filled with things or with money or with worldly achievements? What will the Lord say when he sees it? Build yourselves treasure in heaven, not on this earth.
Cardinal George, the Archbishop of Chicago, who was rejected by the diocesean seminary and became a religious order priest, said something very profound just before he died. The only things you take away to the next life are the things you gave away. So hopefully your barn is filled with acts of love, mercy, justice, faith; these actions will make you rich in the eyes of God. Only your virtues will go with you to heaven. Things of the world stay in the world. Don’t be fooled by the American Dream; it is a lie. Jesus Christ is the one thing that will not be taken from you.