“Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” (v.15)
The international media absorbed it right in their headlines, “The Pope Urges Us to denounce materialism!” This emotional plea by our beloved Pontiff became like a dewfall, leaving young people, especially those who were in the World Youth Day, with the desire to be more serious about it this time. He even encouraged young people to “make a mess” in their dioceses by sharing their faith in the streets. This radical call which has shaken the whole world is Pope Francis’ way of introducing a reform in the Church, which will make more people aware of the call of Christ to follow him in his
way of living the Gospel.
The story this Sunday begins with an anonymous person in the crowd asking Jesus to tell his brother to share the inheritance they had received from their family. It is an open invitation for Jesus to become an arbitrator to the land and money that they have inherited. But Jesus went straight to tell the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” (v.15)
The statement of Jesus is clear. He reminds us of the danger of greed and power to accumulate possessions. Jesus wants us to take note of one of the erroneous ideas confronting people today, that wealth and power are signs of God’s approval. He wants to correct this attitude in us too. He exhorts all of us not to be lured by the passing splendor of materialism and greed. He is giving us a warning signal about the selfish demands of the same, and the danger attached to all these.
Why did Jesus insert the parable of the Rich Fool? He wants to emphasize that security can never be assured by building larger barns to accommodate our possessions. It is like saying that security can never be assured by the increasing amount of our deposits in the bank or by increasing our investments on something that promises us more returns or profits. He is inculcating in us the value of real security, which can only be attained in our relationship with God and with our neighbors. He wants us to recognize the true value of the real treasure deep inside us that moth, and robbers, and marauders can never destroy.
But what are the implications of being materially secure? Well, there is the presence of happiness and joy, and peace but we can notice that we are not perfectly content. There is something that is lacking. Oftentimes, arrogance and pride are roots of these possessions. Enslavement even of ourselves, as our desire to have some more, forces us to go against our good nature. Thus, Jesus wants us to see the other perspective of this reality. We need to transcend our human understanding of these possessions around us.
I am oftentimes awed with such realizations as: “It could have been better if we didn’t have this inheritance. It divided our family!” “I wouldn’t have suffered much from this turmoil, if my family had given me the best inheritance, not money!” “Money becomes immaterial if confronted with the realities of the real dangers of death.” “My properties made me a slave, and made others slaved by me.” “I am under the spell of my possessions!” “How I wish I could live in the quietness of the moment, thinking of God, and not of something else.” All these realizations can lead to a very positive light. And that is by heeding the reminders of Jesus in our Gospel story.
Pope Francis has this to say: “No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in this world.” Let us begin anew to plant the seeds of social justice that don’t affirm riches for one’s own sake. Rather, let us invest our best efforts in the real security that can assure us of eternal joy and peace. May the foolishness for Christ discovered by St. John Marie Vianney,
be endowed unto us so that graced by God, we can become rich with Himself as our only valued-possession. “There can never be a secured life except with God!