August 5, 2007 Year C
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time/10th Sunday After Pentecost
Reflections on the Readings by Dennis Hankins
Theme: Let Us Be Rich Toward God
A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
Sometimes the term Holy Joe is applied to those seemingly preoccupied with things eternal. Or, have you ever been accused of being so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good? And the clincher is this one: "All you think about is the Lord and Church?"
I still like the admonition of my monk friend when I asked if being more prayerful and contemplative would make me more absent. He answered: "No, it will make you more present and more interested in others and less selfish!"
It is the lack of richness toward God that causes imbalance. While some may need direction in their fervency, never is less devotion more practical. In fact, it is today's readings, which emphasize the poverty of only accumulating stuff and things. The Preacher of Ecclesiastes proclaims the vanity and the futility of things, which perish with the using and becomes someone else's with our passing.
It is not frugality and planning that Jesus decries. The farmer's bountiful harvest and building of larger barns to contain the crops is not the focus of our Lord's concern. Listen again what the farmer thought in his heart about all this newly found abundance.
And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry
Our riches are not of this world. Of course our Lord knows our need of clothing and food and shelter and security. But all these things are what unbelievers are preoccupied in attaining. There is something more to life. There is another Kingdom. There is happiness that endures in this life if guided by the joy of being raised with Christ, seeking the things that are above. Paul's seeking the things above is reminiscent of Jesus' exhortation to seek first the Kingdom of God.
Setting our mind on things above does not mean we ignore our earthly responsibilities. However it does mean having the mind of Christ in all things and with all others. Paul exhorts to not set our mind on things that are on earth. This mindset is not about being rich toward God. It is rather a deceitful pattern of self-promotion and worldly gain, saying to our soul, Soul, take your ease, eat, drink and be merry. Indeed we are to put to death whatever is earthly in us: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
What a difference it makes to be rich in the riches of Christ. Allowing our consciences and our desires to be shaped by our inheritance in Christ frees us from the delight and deceitfulness of earthly treasures and ill-gotten gain
Let us be rich toward God remembering:
God in His generosity gave us his only Son for us men and for our salvation;
That with Christ, in God is our life hidden, giving us an endless partaking of the divine nature;
Knowing that when Christ who is our life appears, then will we also appear with Him in glory.
May it be so.
Let us pray: Dear Jesus, help me to return to my first love. Slay in me the giants of self-love, self-seeking, self-making. May the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life and all that is earthly in me be defeated; and my life be filled with the will of God which is good and acceptable and perfect. Amen.