Homilette for Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

(Luke 12:13-21)

Go into the houses of most people today, and you are likely to see a lot of stuff. We live in an age of mass production when manufactured goods multiply like leaves on a maple tree. The gospel today serves as a warning about over-concern with material wealth, with stuff. It proposes, instead, that we should store up treasure in heaven.

The farmer in Jesus’ story is an insufferable egotist. As one commentator puts it, “He talks to himself; he plans for himself; he congratulates himself.” But is he really so different from many of us? Too often people think only of themselves. They even plan and nurture children to fit their narcissistic designs. The barns which the farmer builds to store grain for the future serve the same purposes as savings portfolios today. The portfolios do not necessarily make people bad; they make them rich. When pursued single-mindedly, they also will prove to be self-defeating. As Jesus would say, the portfolios make them fools.

Of course, Jesus would not condemn prudent people with retirement plans and savings for emergencies. But he would condemn non-attention to those without resources to meet critical human needs. Before we spend all that we have on more stuff or invest all non-spent income for tomorrow, we must assist those who are struggling to live with decency. Ironically, this kind of concern proves to be the best plan for the future. Jesus makes clear throughout the gospel that sharing with the poor deposits a treasure where it counts most.