Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ephesians 2:1-10; 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 in springtime.  The gospel today serves as a warning about over-concern with material possessions.  It proposes, instead, that treasure be stored in heaven.

The farmer in Jesus’ story is a bit insufferable.  As one commentator puts it, “He talks to himself; he plans for himself; he congratulates himself.”  But he is not really too different from many in society.  People talk of “looking after number one” as if it were a particularly admirable virtue.  Some plan and nurture children to fit narcissistic designs.  Others build up portfolios as the farmer in Jesus’ parable plans to build bigger barns. The portfolios do not necessarily make people bad; they make them rich.  When pursued single-mindedly, they also make people selfish.  Jesus would add another outcome of portfolio builders: they become foolish.

Of course, Jesus would not condemn planning for retirement and emergencies.  But he would criticize 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.