Sunday, August 4, 2013

“If money be not thy servant, it will be thy master.”

Every evil, harm and suffering in this life comes from the love of riches. – St Catherine of Siena

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.”

Leo Tolstoy once wrote a story about a successful peasant farmer who was not satisfied with his lot. He wanted more of everything. One day he received a novel offer. For 1000 rubles, he could buy all the land he could walk around in a day. The only catch in the deal was that he had to be back at his starting point by sundown. Early the next morning he started out walking at a fast pace. By midday he was very tired, but he kept going, covering more and more ground. Well into the afternoon he realized that his greed had taken him far from the starting point. He quickened his pace and as the sun began to sink low in the sky, he began to run, knowing that if he did not make it back by sundown the opportunity to become an even bigger landholder would be lost. As the sun began to sink below the horizon he came within sight of the finish line. Gasping for breath, his heart pounding, he called upon every bit of strength left in his body and staggered across the line just before the sun disappeared. He immediately collapsed, blood streaming from his mouth. In a few minutes he was dead. Afterwards, his servants dug a grave. It was not much over six feet long and three feet wide. The title of Tolstoy's story was: How Much Land Does a Man Need?

In a book by James Patterson and Peter Kim, The Day America Told the Truth, (1991) a question was addressed: What are you willing to do for $10,000,000? 
Two-thirds of Americans polled would agree to at least one, some to several of the following: Would abandon their entire family (25%)
Would abandon their church (25%)
 Would give up their American citizenships (16%)
Would leave their spouses (16%).

When you read the gospel today ask yourself, “What wrong did this man do?” Think about it. The man did his honest work on his farmland. The land gave a good harvest, as expected. The man decided do build a larger storage for the crop so that he could live the rest of his life on Easy Street. Except he did not know that the rest of his life was less than twenty-four hours. Jesus uses him as an illustration of greed even though he took nobody’s money. He did not do something wrong. His greed lies in what he did not do.

It all boils down to trust and responsibility – trust in ourselves that we have the ability within us to provide for our own needs and responsibility to do so with an eye on our Higher Purpose – that which benefits the good of the whole from the big picture.

Keeping our eye on the common good does more than just help others .. it helps us as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment