Sunday, October 16, 2016

THE RICH FOOL


 Homily for Oct. 17th, 2016: Luke 12: 13-21.

          What is the greatest sin in the Old Testament? It is idolatry – worshiping a false god who cannot answer our prayers, because he is deaf, dumb, and blind.  For the Old Testament the greatest sin is violation of the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods but me.” The gospel we have just heard is about a man who worshipped the false god of money and possessions.

          This false god seduces thousands. God alone knows how many people in our society sacrifice health, family, general well-being, and morality on the altar of this idol. A classic example is the hard-driving American business man who accumulates great wealth, neglecting his family and health as he does so, only to drop dead of a heart attack at fifty-five. 

          The issue is not money. The issue is our relationship to money and possessions. The checkout counters at the supermarkets are full of trashy magazines with reports of wealthy celebrities who have it all – except happiness. The rich fool in Jesus’ parable made the mistake, of assuming that possessions and money could guarantee security and happiness. The man is shocked to discover, just when he thinks he has achieved total security, that life is God’s to give, and God’s to take away. Jesus’ comment is simple and direct: “Thus it will be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”

          Being rich in what matters to God means realizing that there is something more important than getting – yes, and far more satisfying;: and that is giving. A man who stated this well was England’s World War II Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. No Catholic, and not an especially religious man, Churchill said once: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”