“The world says: "You have needs -- satisfy them. You have as much right as the rich and the mighty. Don't hesitate to satisfy your needs; indeed, expand your needs and demand more." This is the worldly doctrine of today. And they believe that this is freedom. The result for the rich is isolation and suicide, for the poor, envy and murder.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Gospel Text: (LK 12:13-21)
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus,
“Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”
He replied to him,
“Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”
Then he said to the crowd,
“Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
Then he told them a parable.
“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.
He asked himself, ‘What shall I do,
for I do not have space to store my harvest?’
And he said, ‘This is what I shall do:
I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
There I shall store all my grain and other goods
and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you,
you have so many good things stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’
But God said to him,
‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves
but are not rich in what matters to God.”
Money is not the issue, and, as Pope Francis said,” Money contributes greatly to many good works for the development of the human race.” But, he notes the real problem is a distorted use of money, attachment and greed. As Jesus cautions today, “Take heed and beware of all covetousness.”
“How many families have we seen destroyed by problems over money: brother against brother; father against sons?,” Pope Francis asked. “When a person is attached to money he destroys himself, he destroys his family.”
St. Ignatius of Loyola perceptively named the failings of our human nature and how easily we slip into greed and the dangers of wealth. Our fears about being secure in the future and our unwillingness to trust in God can prevent us from sharing what resources we have.
Psalm 90 tells us, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart,” we are told. “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
Once again, “One’s life does not consist of possessions,” Jesus cautions today in the gospel and yet how easily we can forget that. Our riches, honors and pride, our need for “success”, can lead us to become too busy to listen to God’s voice in our life each day.