Thursday, July 28, 2016

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C

Welcome to read homilies for the Sundays of the year. These are sample homilies which you can read with devotion. You may use them in your own homilies without asking my permission. You may also change or edit these to fit them to your audience. A unique quality of these homilies is that they are Christ-filled. From beginning to end they present to us some aspect of Jesus so that beholding his glory we “are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NAB).

True Riches

One of the books besides the Bible which influenced my life for the better was the book by Napoleon Hill entitled THINK AND GROW RICH. I bought it more than 40 years ago to read something while waiting for an airplane to take me to southern Philippines. As the title suggests the book teaches that if you think rich you will grow rich.

What surprised me as I read that book was that the author was not only teaching how to grow rich financially. I thought all along that it teaches the reader how to be rich in money, how to be wealthy. But I learned from that book that there are things worth pursuing other than money.

In fact the author Napoleon Hill teaches his readers not to be careful with material possessions. He says, "If you must be careless with your possessions, let it be in connection with material things." Further on he elaborates, "Riches cannot always be measured in money! . . .  there are some who will feel that the greatest of all riches can be evaluated only in terms of lasting friendships, harmonious family relationships, sympathy and understanding between business associates, and introspective harmony which brings one peace of mind measurable only in spiritual values!" And he quotes Westbrook Pegler: ‘Money is only clam shells or metal discs or scraps of paper, and there are treasures of the heart and soul which money cannot buy, but most people, being broke, are unable to keep this in mind and sustain their spirits.' (New York World-Telegram).

This book shows us that even men of the world know and teach that true riches are not measured by money or material possessions.

In today's Gospel our Lord tells us what are the true riches. He agrees with Solomon who says in our first reading that all things are vanity. And he exhorts us through the second reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Colossians, to seek what is above, to think of what is above, not what is of earth. And he explicitly tells us what true riches are not. They are not what we possess no matter how vast these are. Rather true riches for Jesus is what God possesses.
The ending of the Gospel reading is very instructive. Jesus says, "Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God."
Jesus wants us to be rich but not by storing up treasures for ourselves but by storing up treasures for God.
Storing up treasures for God can mean two or three things. It can mean that we store up things which God can use. It can also mean storing up things which from the viewpoint of God are treasures to him. Or it can mean both.
Storing up treasures which God can use happened in the case of Joseph of Arimathea who the Scriptures say was a rich man. His treasures were used by God to bury his son Jesus. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be buried in a rich man's tomb (53:9 AV). Joseph was part of the fulfillment of this prophecy. Joseph was a disciple of Jesus but we have no record that Jesus told him to sell what he had to give to the poor. This was because what he had was for the use of God.
This happened also with the original Joseph who was governor of Egypt 16 centuries before Christ. He stored up food during the seven years of plenty which God would use during the following seven years of famine. This was an enormous amount of grain worth by now billions of dollars. God used this to feed Jacob and his family, besides feeding by it also the people of Egypt.
Jesus wants us to store up treasures for use in his kingdom, but not for our greed, for the sake of just having more. In the parable of the talents he teaches us to invest what we receive from him so that our talents become productive and useful for other people.
Storing up treasures for God can also mean that we store up things which from the viewpoint of God are treasures to him. Here we refer principally to the three theological virtues which make active the life of God within us. These are the virtues of faith, hope and love. These are the real treasures from God's point of view and Jesus wants us to have these treasures. We can never have enough of these divine treasures, faith and hope and love. They are called theological virtues or habits because they make us live like God. These are unseen treasures but they are very real.
Faith makes us understand the things of God. Hope makes us desire what God has. Love makes us enjoy the power, goodness, and abundance of God. These are the qualities worth storing in our life. The strange thing about these treasures or qualities is that the more we use them they more they accumulate in us and the more we can share these with others.
Finally when Jesus says that he wants us to be rich with respect to the things of God or to store up treasures for God, he means that we have more of the material things which he can use for the kingdom and that we have more of the qualities which make us more and more like him. Then we are truly rich with regards to God. God now sees us as truly rich in his son Jesus.
Let us ask God for the true riches in life. Let us bow our heads.

Father God, the Psalmist exclaims that you own the whole world. As your heirs we too own this whole wide world. Teach us to use the things of this world for your kingdom. Make us also rich in faith and hope and love so that we can share your goodness with others. This we pray through your Son Jesus who showed us what the true riches are by the power of your Spirit. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment