31st July, 2022

barns in a field

‘I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones,
 and store all my grain and my goods in them…’ Lk 12

Homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Today is the last day of July and tomorrow we will enter the new month of August. For many of us it will be the time of holiday and well-deserved rest. Many of us will leave our towns and villages to discover other interesting places, to recharge our batteries and return full of energy and with new enthusiasm to our daily work and commitments. Also, in today’s Gospel we have heard a very interesting parable about rest and relaxation. The main character of Jesus’ parable thought to himself: ‘My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come, take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time’. If we translate exactly the words of today’s Gospel, the rich man thought in this way: ‘I will tell my soul: eat, drink and have fun… I know that you have spiritual needs, but I will try to satisfy them with food and money’. In response however, he heard from God: ‘Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul…’

A couple of years ago I had a conversation with someone who told me that he was offered a job in another town, it was far away from where he lived, and he was unable to move because he loved his house too much. He accumulated so many things that it would be too hard for him not to look at his collections of various things every day. As we have heard in today’s Gospel reading Jesus has an important message for us all. ‘Watch – He says – and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more than he needs’. I guess each of us is a bit of a hoarder. We buy things we don’t really need. Sometimes we spend money on things that we use very rarely. For example, how many clothes have we bought and worn only once? Sometimes we feel attached to them and find it difficult to give them away to those in need even though they are useless to us. Today we are invited to reflect for a moment about all the things that we have accumulated over the years and don’t use. We might think that one day we will need and use them, so it would be best to keep everything just in case. But let us ask: Will that day ever come? We live in an affluent country where consumerism has become part of life for many people around us. Advertisements bombard us every day, we are encouraged to spend more and more time in shopping centres. Visiting them has become a daily routine or even a form of addiction for some. The shops become like modern churches or even cathedrals for families and individual people. We are told that we need all the latest gadgets to live a happy life. But on the other hand, Jesus tells us today that true wealth can never be found in possessions and money. It is to our availability to be able to use well and wisely material things, enjoy them and if necessary, share them with others. Unfortunately, some rich people I have met over the past 15 years as a priest have lost their capacity to enjoy what they have accumulated. People seem to be so busy with work and other commitments that they don’t have time to enjoy their lives, their families and what they possess. How many of our own relatives say that they are too busy to find time to go to Sunday Mass? A couple a years ago I came across an article in some newspaper about a homeless person who used to be an executive in one of the biggest companies in the country where he lived. He consciously decided to quit his job and spend some time living in the street. Of course, in the process he lost a lot of money and friends. It was a bold decision, however he used to say very proudly that it was for him a liberating experience. When he shared most of his possessions with the needy, he discovered a totally new world. For example, as he said, he couldn’t believe that a life without a mobile or laptop was possible. He found the meaning of life and was able to enjoy the smallest things. Above all he found Jesus and came back to the faith that he once had.

In the Letter to the Colossians St Paul wrote: ‘Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth’. Please don’t get me wrong. Possessions and money are not sinful in themselves. But love of money and possessions are sinful. Moreover, according to St Paul: ‘The love of money is the root of all evil’. We need to be grateful to God for everything we possess, however, we need to remember that our Heavenly Father allowed us to have different things for a certain purpose, and each of us need to discover how to use well our material wealth. Let us remember that generosity makes our hearts free. When we share our abundance, we become reach in God’s sight. That is what matters the most.

Lord, we thank you for today’s Word, which is a great challenge for us. Through your teaching, show us the true wisdom of life, teach us to use material and transient things and teach us how to live with the hope of eternity.