Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Investing for Eternity

Eighteenth Ordinary Sunday Year C

Everyone is concerned about having some security in life. We do this not only for ourselves but also for those whom we love – our family members, our children, our aging parents. We buy insurance policies, we make investments, often thinking about our financial future and the future of our children.

Are today’s readings telling us that we are to avoid such preparations? Certainly not. Jesus understands our yearning for security but he wants to put this yearning in proper perspective. In the gospel, we have the parable of the rich farmer who goes through so much trouble to “store up treasures for himself.” The rich farmer has had a good harvest and has made plans for further expansion. He congratulates himself for a job well done. He has security or so he thinks he may have. He has proved himself to be a clever businessman, a good planner, and man respected by society. And yet, God calls him a fool.

What did the rich farmer do wrong? The story does not tell us that he had cheated anyone or had obtained his wealth through some dishonest means. What then was his mistake? He was greedy. He was “storing up treasures for himself.” Just before telling this story, Jesus gives us this warning: “Avoid greed in all its form.” A man may be wealthy, but his possessions do not guarantee him life.” Greed leads a person to rely solely on material possessions for his security. Having material possessions makes him think that he is in control of his life. He depends only on himself for his security, forgetting that he has obtained all this riches only through the grace of God. He forgets that his life is in the hands of God.

Greed also prevents the rich farmer from thinking of others and sharing what he has with others. The rich want to become richer. The amount of wealth which he accumulates could be shared with others, but he fails to do that. Instead, he has plans to build more store houses. He only thinks of “storing treasures for himself” and for no one else.

By telling this story, Jesus is not condemning riches. But Jesus is telling us to share our riches and our possessions. The evil does not lie in possessing things but in ‘hoarding.’ The lesson given by the story which Jesus tells is simple and clear: We can’t bring our riches with us when we die. Live should be spent investing in things that really do matter, in things that will last. In the words of St. Paul, “you must look for the things that are in heaven.” This is our true security.

Let us look at our own lives. We work so hard to save money for ourselves and our families. We work hard to make our lives more comfortable. We accumulate things – cars, money, houses, and so many other things. Sometimes, when we are so busy making money, we forget about God, we forget about Church and we forget about our own families. We pressure our own children to study hard and to get good jobs. These things are important but they should not be the most important thing in our lives. We should never let our ambition and our need to acquire money and things control our lives. When this happens, we become slaves to money and worldly possessions. Always remember, we can never bring any of these things with us when we die. Many Chinese think they can – by burning paper cars, paper TVs, paper money. But all of these will be wasted. We entered into this world without having anything and we will leave this world without bringing anything.

Let us stop and reflect over our own lives. Let us look at what are the important things in our lives. Is it money or things? Or is it our family, our friends, and our own soul? I believe that you will know what is ultimately more important.

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