Homily for the eighteenth Sunday of the year - Year C - Lk. 12:13-21


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"One of the multitude said to Jesus, "Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me." But he said to him, "Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?" And he said to them, "Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."


"And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry." ' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."





Homily:


"One of the multitude said to Jesus, 'Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me.' But he said to him, 'Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?' "


Jesus was teaching the crowd when someone interrupted him, saying, "Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me." Here, Jesus was presented with a family dispute, in order that he might resolve it. But Jesus does not want to be bothered with this dispute. Why not? Precisely because it is a family dispute. Now, who is a member of the family of Jesus? Jesus had already told us: "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it." (Lk. 8:21) The family of Jesus is made up of all those whom the Father adopted as sons and daughters, for these people listen to the Word, which is his Son. Jesus has but a single concern throughout his life: his own family, his brothers, his sisters, all those for whom Mary, his own Mother, became their Mother in the Holy Spirit!


For this reason, Jesus replies: "Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?" Of course, Jesus can judge everyone, but he was constituted by his Father to be the Judge of eternal Life: in the evening of this life, Christ judges each man and woman according to his or her actions, rewarding the good and punishing the guilty. If an argument concerning material goods erupts in a family, then it belongs to Jesus to resolve it only if this disagreement would have some effect on the eternal salvation of one or the other of the parties in question - that is, only if those who possess material goods were to try to lift up their spirit and soul towards the things that are above, as Saint Paul recommends in today's epistle: "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." (Col. 3:1-2)


"And he said to them, 'Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.' "


This family dispute is not Jesus' concern. Now, if one or the other of the two brothers had spoken to Jesus and told him that, a priori, he renounced all of his share of the inheritance, and that if Jesus willed, he could intercede in his favor, for he truly thought he was in the right, then, under these conditions, there is no doubt that Jesus would have been interested in the fate of these two brothers, or at least in the fate of he who had spoken to him in this manner. For, in such a case, this brother would have also become one of the brothers of Jesus: his renouncement, a priori, of his terrestrial inheritance would have made him an heir to eternal life. Jesus said: "Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life." (Lk. 18:29-30) What Jesus absolutely asks of us is that we not be insatiable with respect to the riches of this world, and that we be ever ready to abandon them in spirit, and even in reality, if such is the Will of God!


"And he told them a parable, saying, 'The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, "What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?" And he said, "I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.' " But God said to him, "Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?" So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.' "


Jesus provides all those who are present with a lesson: a parable. Jesus wants to make everyone understand what one must not do: "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." But what is it to be "rich toward God"? Quite simply, it is to be "poor in spirit"! "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 5:3) A Christian is not a man who lives outside of time: he possesses things, he buys, he sells, he works to earn his wages, whether these wages be high or low. But the Christian must, first of all, be a man or woman who is poor in his or her heart: all that he has, he entrusts it to God, and God takes care of him, more than he could ever do so himself! The Christian watches over his home or property, he installs locks on the doors, and makes use of alarms and theft protection devices; but, in fact, it is the Lord who protects his house and all his goods!


Jesus is our brother, and Mary is our Mother! If we have a disagreement with our earthly brothers and sisters, let us entrust it all to Jesus and to Mary! Didn't they live on earth too? Didn't they see among their contemporaries all of the problems known to the families of the world? Let us rely on Jesus and Mary! Let us ask them to lift up our spirit to Heaven, where the family of God lives in perfect harmony, forever and ever!



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