Live Generously

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home Depositphotos_15549441_m-2015.jpg

August 4, 2019 – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 12:13-21

I was driving by an open field near where I live and wondered what was going on. The land was being cleared of trees and bushes. Perhaps a new housing development was being built for low income people, a major need in many places. Then I saw a sign erected at the edge of the property. “New public storage units coming soon.” I wasn’t surprised.

At least once a year, our town of a few thousand residents builds another of these facilities. And they seem needed because there are so many. I occasionally wonder what fills these locked units. Furniture in between moves? Seasonal equipment for yards or gardens? Summer stuff during winter? A friend of mine stores all his hobby stuff in one of those units. Still, I had to wonder whether many of us, myself included, may just have too much stuff.

The message of Jesus in today’s gospel may not have increased the popularity of Jesus, especially among the more well-to-do. It is aimed at those who, simply put, have too much. They are well-heeled, as we say, and are greedy for acquiring more riches. Really, as much as they can. Sound familiar?

Think about the parade of commercials advertising “wealth management.” The implied message is that you cannot have enough money because you never know what’s ahead. You need to protect yourself and your financial resources from the unexpected. I’ve never heard one of these businesses suggested that you may already have enough, or certainly not “too much.” They want their audience to worry and be anxious.

In this Sunday’s gospel Jesus warns against the attitude of greed. That’s because he sees that the experience of a good life, a well-lived life, a life of generosity and care for others, might be blocked when one’s primary concern is personal wealth. Having too much (admittedly a very relative matter) seems to draw most of one’s attention to one’s possessions (financial or otherwise). They need more storage.

It’s like asking someone how they are doing, and their mind automatically focuses on their wealth, not on the quality of their life. There is solid research about personal happiness that says that once you reach a certain level of wealth (enough to get by), that the level of personal happiness drops as one’s wealth grows. The desires of the self outweigh the needs of others. In other words, Jesus was right.

©David M. Thomas, PhD

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Download this simple Observe-Judge-Act method for discussion with your family or your CFM group.