PERSONAL REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S GOSPEL READING.
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Lectionary 114
On Greed, Avarice and Real Treasures
By Herbert B. Rosana, Ph.D.
The gospel narrative is always an eye opener for each time we open its pages to read, it offers us new insights. Today’s gospel reading brings to my attention several points to ponder. Not only because it is poignant and enigmatic but because it challenges my way of thinking and induces self-examination.
First I was impressed by the realization that life is transitory, we are aware of this but many of us live and act as if we will live forever on this earth. We are bothered by mundane problems, we engaged in conflicts about properties, monies and wealth. When our Lord was asked by the young man to mediate with his brother about inheritance, Jesus rebuked him by saying: “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” This shows that even our legitimate legal battles about possessions can be a source of greed. This is the reason why our Lord said we have to take care, we have to guard against greed. Greed is also deceptive, it may appear in the form of justice, legality and all types of fronts. But Greed is the inordinate desire to acquire possessions. Though possessions are necessary they are not ultimate measure of life, thus our Lord said, “Life does not consist of possessions.”
Second, I realize that we need to reflect more often and set our priorities straight. Maybe we should have a bucket lists of what we need and what we want and rank order these according to importance. Sometimes we always assume that it is okay to be greedy or it is okay to cheat and defraud our neighbors or business partners, anyway, we assume, that in the end we shall be forgiven. But Jesus reminded us that there is an end to life and there is accountability that cannot be erased by a haphazard form of repentance. In today’s reading I was reminded by the passage: “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?”. St. Augustine of Hippo said: “Late repentance is seldom genuine, but genuine it is never too late.”
Third, I realize that money or wealth is not really the problem. Wealth and money are means of exchange, they symbolize and represent the material goods that we use to live well. The problem is with us, with every individual person. The love of money and not money itself is the root of all evils. St. Paul reminded Timothy thus: “Those who want to be rich, however, fall into temptation and become ensnared by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, by craving it some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. But you Oh man of God, flee from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love and perseverance, and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:9-11). Greed is our enemy, this is the little monster that lurks in our minds and tempts us especially in our attempt to make a living. But we have to guard against it. Life does not consist in money and properties. We should be clear with the utilitarian purpose of money. We should aim for a personal transformation. We should be rich in the eyes of God and not in the eyes of men. Thus the saying is true: “My religion is kindness.” This is the only way we can be rich in the eyes of God. To love God and our neighbor – that is the measure of heavenly treasure. The reward is futuristic but there is a foretaste of that on earth too – but the immensity of this truth calls for faith. But if the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?