Today’s gospel (Luke 12:13-21) was principally the parable of the Rich Fool:
Then he told them a parable: ‘There was once a rich man who, having had a good harvest from his land, thought to himself, “What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops.” Then he said, “This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them, and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time.” But God said to him, “Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?” So it is when a man stores up treasure for himself in place of making himself rich in the sight of God.’
In my homily I spoke about my first job in Boston after graduating as an engineer in 1983. I was flattered to receive as a benefit $2 million worth of life insurance. As I thought about this I began to see that it wasn’t going to extend my life by a minute. Rather, it was a fruitless death insurance. I asked myself about where real life insurance was to be found? Through this questioning I was able to make sense of the core gospel message of hope as expressed by Jesus at the raising of Lazarus: I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. HE WHO BELIEVES IN ME EVEN THOUGH HE DIE, YET SHALL HE LIVE; AND HE WHO LIVES AND BELIEVES IN ME WILL NEVER DIE.
The Rich Fool thought he had life insurance in his bigger barns and harvest. Jesus finished the gospel by observing: So it is when a man stores up treasure for himself in place of making himself rich in the sight of God. St Paul in the second reading (Col 3:1-5; 9-11) tells us how we can make ourselves rich in the sight of God.
First he tells us the bad things to avoid. This gives us the since of a gladiatorial battle in the spiritual sense: “That is why you must kill everything in you that belongs only to earthly life.”
The first area is to do with the right use of our sexuality which is strictly reserved for a valid marriage between husband and wife. In this regard Paul mentions “fornication, impurity, guilty passion, evil desires”. God’s truth for right living doesn’t change with the times – e.g. the current prevalence of cohabitation.
The second area is greed with Paul equates with idolatry. If the Rich Fool had seen his wealth as a gift which had been loaned to him by God, he would have been more generous in sharing it with the less well off.
The third area is telling lies. The same honesty as we expect between family and close friends has to apply equally to all our relationships – business contacts, the government, etc. As Granny used to say: Tell the truth and shame the devil.
The good thing that we must do is expressed as “Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth”. The maxim WE ARE WHAT WE EAT tells us the importance of eating good food and avoiding junk food. More importantly WE ARE WHAT WE THINK. Reflecting on holy things like the Rosary and the mysteries of Jesus’ life lifts us up spiritually. Reflecting on the junk programming on TV has the opposite effect.
At the end of Mass I brought attention to a bulletin article (see below) on good things to lift up our minds to God and heaven. For a bit of craic but also to make a point, I showed the congregation the front cover of a typical glossy magazine I had picked up. It featured all sorts of gossip about the antics on TV soaps. On page 3 was an article about a wedding with two brides.
Faith Resources: EWTN stands for Eternal Word Television Network and is a global Catholic TV station. It is available on SKY 589, by a special tuning-in of the FREESAT receiver or on the internet with a computer or smart phone. Its programmes include daily Mass, Holy Hour, Rosary, Divine Mercy, Lives of the Saints, Scripture study, Catechism, instruction on prayer, Faith testimonies, current affairs, etc. The Sacred Heart Messenger can be ordered at 01 676 7491; St Martin’s Magazine on 01 874 5465. Curate’s Diary and a host of other faith articles can be found at http://www.jesuspowerministries.org. Newspapers such as the Irish Catholic and Catholic Voice can be ordered at the newsagent. ALIVE! Is a free newspaper that is available at the back of the church. Bible Alive is a commentary on the daily gospel and can be ordered at 0044 1782 745 600. Magnificat is a magazine that includes the daily Mass readings, daily reflection, a simplified Morning and Evening Prayer (that has been prayed by religious since the times of the early Church) and various spiritual articles. It can be ordered at 01 687 4020 ext 2. One can read the Catechism in a year by subscribing to free daily bulletins via email – visit http://www.flocknote.com/catechism.