Grace to you!
In today's reflection, I write of the need to put our possessions in their proper perspective.
A man approached Jesus asking him to be the arbiter between him and his brother over their inheritance. Read the story in Luke 12:13-21. By the way, only the Gospel of Luke reported this story.
What did Jesus do? Distracted because of domestic and social concerns? Become narrow minded so as to be “the great politician” or the populist?
See what he did. He refocused the attention from “liberation theology” or social concerns with the tempting, and sometimes slippery slope for greed, to a more appropriate concern for virtuous lifestyle and detachment. He said; “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15).
Greed? Who’s the greedy here? Wasn’t the man asking for his fair share? Shouldn’t the Christ be concerned about fairness?
Jesus is aware of the trick. Greed is sneaky. It’s like a chameleon. The poor can be just as greedy as the rich. “He became rich by ripping the poor of their resources and opportunities” is a Marxist brand of greed. Many poor fall for it. Some rich people’s claim that “I’ve worked very hard and wouldn’t stand someone giving my money to that lazy loafer” could also be greed in a camouflage.
The greed of the poor wants to seize the wealth of the rich and wishes the rich were poor. The greed of the rich isn’t satisfied with what one has. Like Oliver Twist in the second novel of Charles Dickens, it always “wants some more.”
Greed isn’t simply about money; it’s equally about position. Greed could manifest in gossip, or backbiting to make a supervisor look bad because of envy of his or her position. It could equally come from a supervisor who is envious of the skills of a successor by the disparaging innuendos or attitudes suggesting that, “no one is as good as I am to fill my position.”
Jesus warns: “Take care! Be on your guard against all kindsof greed.” Because greed is very subtle, we must be on our guard. Always.
Here are a few answers to greed. First is detachment. If anything—power, fame, money or material stuff—causes you anxiety at the thought of losing it, practice a virtuous act of detachment. Reconsider the importance you attach to that thing.
Second, use one’s wealth or blessings for service in your community. A generous heart has a way of crushing the demon of greed.
Third, faith in action or works of charity in various forms of spiritual and corporal works of mercy has a way of molding the heart for the Christ-like, the spiritual. The Christ-like is a heavy blow to greed.
Finally, when God has given us wealth, he wants us to use it not only for ourselves, but also for others. Almsgiving isn’t an option. It’s a vocation, a vocation equipping us to stamp out greed and build a lasting legacy because it is rooted in love. The joy of wealth is sharing.
As St Ambrose rightly says: “The hands of the poor, the houses of widows, are storehouses that endure forever.”
Permit me to end this reflection with a story by Richard Wurmbrand: “Two Christians shivered with cold in a cell. Each had a thin blanket. One of the Christians looked to the other and saw how he trembled. The thought came to him, ‘If that were Christ, would you give Him your blanket...?”
God love you. God bless you!
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Eighteenth Sunday Ordinary Time C: Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23; Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11; Luke 12:13-21]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.