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Attachments, Detachment, and Interior Freedom
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “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.” Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”
Opening Prayer: Dear Jesus, you said, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). Cleanse my heart from earthly attachments so that I may seek to love you with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength.
- What Am I Attached To?: Jesus reminds us now and again of the danger of attachments to worldly goods. The Gospel here refers to prosperity and wealth, and perhaps we feel this warning doesn’t apply to us. However, we could all be attached to other material aspects of life—work, pleasures, health, talents, honor, or family. These things are not necessarily bad; many of them are God’s gifts to us. The problem is the absolute worth we may allocate to them. After all, these things are transient and will not last forever. Through an examination of conscience, we can ask the Lord to show us what attachments we have that need purification.
- Detachment: The Gospel today refers to food, drinks, and possessions, which are necessities of life, but Jesus invites us to “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and the rest will be given to you” (Matthew 6:33). There are many delightful and decent things in creation for our enjoyment and well-being. We should not shun them but put them to good use as long as they bring us to God and not away from him. Detachment is not about rejecting possessions but prioritizing our lives so that God and eternal salvation always come first.
- Jesus Wants Us to Be Free: Society tells us that freedom implies self-indulgence and self-gratification. However, true freedom consists of transformation into the likeness of Christ. If we trust in God’s providence, we lack nothing. Through death to sin and worldly appetites, we are no longer bound by pride, regrets, guilt, or fears. Even death is not to be feared, as it is a step toward the eternal embrace. This freedom as children of God is ours to claim even now if we let go and let God take control of our past, present, and future.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I am so preoccupied with things of this age that sometimes I forget that you alone are my Shepherd and that I lack nothing (Psalm 23:1). Increase my hope that you oversee my life and those of my loved ones. Help me trust more in your providential love. I thank you for all the good gifts you have given me and the crosses you allowed in my life. Empower me with the strength to surrender my life to you and seek your most holy will above all.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will examine the areas of my life that I have not surrendered to you. I will remind myself with Job that naked I came into the world, naked I will return (Job 1:21). Give me the strength and grace to detach from these earthly goods and abandon myself in your love.
For Further Reflection: Catechism of the Catholic Church 2544-2547 on the poverty of heart. Lord Jesus, although you were rich, you became poor among us so that we could become enriched through your poverty. Therefore, fill us with this great desire to love you above all and trust in your divine plan, leading us to happiness and grace, beauty, and peace. We ask this through Christ Our Lord.
Fr. Joseph Tham, LC, was ordained in 2004 and currently teaches bioethics in Rome’s Regina Apostolorum University. He is author of many books and articles on bioethics. In his free time, he enjoys Chinese painting and calligraphy.
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