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Be rich in what matters to God

Mary Jo Tully
Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland


Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23
Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11
Luke 12:13-21

Most of us prefer not to think too often or too long about dying. But although our life might continue, death happens. The sudden deaths of those we love remind us that “this night your life might be demanded of you.” In today’s Gospel, we hear a parable that Jesus explains even before he tells the story: “One’s life does not consist of possessions.”

Someone told me that the story reminds her of a person who moved into a larger house because her closets were too small. In that light, it might appear that the rich man in the Gospel was merely selfish and acquisitive. On the other hand, my mother was neither and I can remember how much she feared having her funds runs out before her life did. It was a foolish fear since she had five children but it was not unlike the concerns of many elderly. Perhaps the rich man simply preferred to forget he would die. He did not look beyond a retirement of eating, drinking and being merry! All the material goods he stored would not guarantee him life any more than money markets, IRAs and investments will lengthen ours. Had the historical Jesus wanted to tell his parable in this age, he might well have reflected on a person crossing a street and getting hit by a car after making a large deposit in his retirement account. “Remember death,” Jesus says to us today.

Neither do we want to forget the reason for the parable — the man who wanted his brother to share his inheritance. One wonders what that young man’s parents would have thought. And we think of all those who fret about finances because of their need to leave something in their will for their children. All of us want to leave some evidence that we have lived and made a difference for future generations. Too easily, we forget that storing up treasure — even for our children — does not make us rich in what matters to God.

The words of St. Paul and the proclamation in the First come to life in the parable that Jesus tells. Death is a hard realization for all of us. It is an experience that echoes in our lives whenever we are alienated and separated from others. From our side of the grave, death is separation. In the light of Christian teaching, it is reunion. At this Eucharist, we see death in light of the Eucharistic Prayer. We are challenged to pour ourselves out for others as Christ has been poured out for us.





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