Riches That Last

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

July 31st, 2022 – Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 12:13-21

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There are some who say the gospels are mostly about spiritual matters like personal salvation, forgiveness of sins and the state of our souls. They are correct in claiming that the gospels (and the message of Jesus) is about those matters, but much more, too.

Take today’s gospel from Luke. It deals with family financial matters. Even in the time of Jesus, people were concerned about matters of personal wealth, and in this situation, family inheritance. It seems there were two sons who were disputing the distribution of the recently departed father’s estate. Religious figures, like Jesus, were occasionally brought in to settle disputes. Even among family members. One brother felt he did not receive his proper allotment.

As Jesus often did, he took the issue at hand and turned it into a spiritual lesson. It concerned the attitude of people toward wealth.

He created a parable describing a man who had large fields of grain. Sometimes the yield was small, usually because of weather conditions that were always unpredictable. But occasionally the perfect amount of rain and sun caused what we call a bumper crop. In fact, in the parable of Jesus, there was such a large yield that the grain harvested was greater than the man’s barns could hold. He had additional barns built. He did not want to lose any of his wealth. For many reasons, Jesus saw this man as being greedy and unwilling to share with others his abundance. He wanted to keep every bit of it for himself.

Jesus concluded his lesson with a simple (although often missed truth) that a good life is not measured by your wealth, but by your goodness.

Now fast forward to today. What image of the good life do we see portrayed every day in the media, in our cultural values and in those who are portrayed as being the most “successful?” What about ourselves, who may have enough financial resources to get food on our table and clothes on our back, but certainly not enough to purchase a fine sports car or a fancy yacht, or for some, a private jet!

Thus, the question that Jesus presents us is a simple one: what is the good life? The one of riches or the one of goodness? The one of hoarding or the one of sharing? The one of me-first or the one where we all share in the goodness of life, while we pay special attention and provide for those who have less?

©David M. Thomas, PhD

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