Every other week I spend some change to buy a lottery ticket and pray that it will be my turn to strike it big. I am hoping for a shortcut to have everything I need so I can have it easy in life. Given a chance I will stop toiling and labouring. I crave for a big barn of possessions so I can 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.” (Last Sunday’s Gospel)
I make a quiet promise to God that I won’t allow money to change me. I will even donate a portion of my winnings to charity. The balance I will use to build bigger barns for myself. For what end goal? Will I give it all away if having it all will change me to the extent that I will lose my way in life towards achieving the end goal of eternal life in heaven? Will you? The ideal solution is to meet God half way.
It is not a sin to be rich. It is quite natural to be wanting more and more. But it is also quite natural for money and riches to change us. Greed can throw us off guard. Last Sunday’s message is for this self-awareness that many things in life can take our focus away from our end goal. “Be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more than he needs”.
Meeting God “half-way” begins with gratitude; to count our blessings each day and to know that what our soul really need, which is peace, is available all the time. We just need to guard against avarice of any kind to find this peace in us. Then there is humility to acknowledge that God wills us toward the end goal. Humility too is living with this realisation that “this very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?” Gratitude and humility help us to build barns for others, not barns of possessions but barns of compassion.
Bigger barns do not make us bigger people. They can actually make us smaller. Greed consumes us, nibbles away at our compassion, leaving us the hollow core of self-centeredness. It loosen the shackles of our moral responsibilities, promote a carefree life style that flirts along the borders of morality. It will cause pain where we hurt most, in our relationships with our loved ones and each other.
“Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on things that are on earth.” (Second reading)
We are in relationship with one another. To achieve the end goal of salvation only for self with no thoughts for the other is in itself self-centeredness. We are put into this relationship with one another so that we can help the other along toward their heavenly salvation. The possessions we own are God-given for us to bless the other person with, to make their worldly life easier and to build a barn for them too.
Salvation is this simple but challenging because it goes against the grain of human desire. Human desire can be tamed by believing in the end goal. Sometimes an empty barn is better than a barn full to help us get there. Hence we wait for our turn with that lottery ticket.
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time