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Guard against Greed
Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr
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 the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, nothing the world offers can compare with the gift of your love and the promise of eternal life with you. Nevertheless, it is so easy to get caught up with thoughts of material security. Turning to you in this time of prayer, Lord, I set my heart on you. I remember the saying, “You are what you love.” Lord, I want to love you above all else. I believe that you are the source of real and lasting happiness. I trust in your goodness and mercy.
- Guard against All Greed: Imagine having the opportunity to stand before Jesus and choosing to say, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” This man’s question showed what he valued most in life. Like the man who went away sad because he could not let go of his possessions to follow Jesus, this man was focused on material well-being. In the parable, Jesus clearly demonstrates how limited this focus is. Jesus encourages us to look beyond what we see and do here and now and set our sights on the world to come. St. Matthew quotes Jesus, “Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Matthew 6:21). Does the way we manage our financial resources reflect our Christian values?
- Disordered Attachment: In his First Letter to Timothy, St. Paul warned, “For the love of money is the root of all evils” (1 Timothy 6:10) and in the book of Hebrews, he wrote, “Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never forsake you or abandon you’” (Hebrews 13:5). It takes money to live, and money can be used for great good; however, those who consider money to be the source of their identity and happiness need to hear Christ’s statement: “Life does not consist in possessions” (Luke 12:13). St. Paul VI wrote, “The exclusive pursuit of possessions thus becomes an obstacle to individual fulfillment and to man’s true greatness. Both for nations and for individual men, avarice is the most evident form of moral underdevelopment” (St. Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, n. 19). Our choices make evident how we prioritize God and the material world.
- Practical Atheism?: When we profess to love the Lord and try to follow him, we encounter challenges. Sometimes we are challenged to overcome a bad, even sinful, habit. Sometimes we are challenged to embrace a moral or theological teaching of the Church. However, sometimes it happens that an individual decides to live according to his own lights, effectively putting God in second place. In this passage, the man anticipated storing up everything he needed for many years, implying that he did not need God in his future. Jesus directs our attention to the importance of being rich in the things of God rather than storing up treasure for ourselves. “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mark 8:36).
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, in my mind, I want to believe that there is nothing more important than you. However, as I slow down and look at my life, I see that there are things that I justify clinging to, despite your clear teaching or your whisper asking me to let it go. Lord, expand my heart with love of you, so that I desire you so much that I have the determination to change. Give me the strength to persevere on my path to you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make an appointment for a Holy Hour to focus on discovering what is most difficult for me to surrender to you, and I will invite someone to accompany me.
For Further Reflection: Read this article about the impact of Adoration in Baltimore.
Janet McLaughlin and her husband Chris live on a mountain in rural northeastern Oregon. She puts her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies to work as she shares the beauty and importance of the lay vocation in her writing, speaking, and teaching on spiritual topics.