I am honored to preach for the Propagaton of the Faith in my Diocese of San Bernardino. This is my homily for this Sunday's readings.
Homily for 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019
Money, inheritance, power, will always create division among family. It does not matter the amount of money that is left, if family members are so wrapped up in getting their hands on that money, they will tear apart the family ties. I can attest to this in my own family. When my grandfather passed away in the 1970’s, he had a small amount of money in his banking account. Two of my uncles argued between the two of them as to who would receive that money and it caused such a rift in my family that those two brothers ended up not speaking to each other for the rest of their lives, in fact, my Dad got caught up into trying to be a mediator and he got on the receiving end of the silent treatment by a couple of his brothers. The amount of this “inheritance”? 700.00, seven. hundred. dollars. Not 700 thousand, 700 dollars and most of that went to pay for Grandpa’s funeral.
In Jesus’ day, it was normal for the people of Israel to look to the spiritual leaders in order to adjudicate their issues. We saw just two weeks ago another person who went to Jesus in order to make her situation more equitable. Martha told Jesus, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left all this work for me? Tell her to help me!” As it was with Martha, so it is with this person in the crowd. Jesus rejects this person’s request, not because he is insensitive to the injustice that may or may not have happened in his family, but because it is not part of his redemptive mission to intervene in matters of this kind. Jesus doesn’t give us technical, precise solutions that arise in our lives, that was not his mission. He has endowed us with intelligence and freedom in order to follow him and live our lives in such a way as to solve our problems and to create a more just and humane world.
Jesus tells the parable of the rich land owner who did very well for himself. The parable shows us that it is folly to put our trust in amassing a great fortune to ensure that we live a comfortable life and in doing so, we tend to forget the goods of the spiritual life, which is what really leads us to eternal life through the Grace of God in his mercy. The man is a fool in this story because he makes his material wealth his only aim and only insurance policy. Now, there is nothing wrong with material possessions, nothing wrong with making a good living for you and your family. But if the acquiring of material possessions becomes an absolute driving force in our lives, it spells the ultimate destruction of our lives and our society.
Another example from my family: my Grandparents were sharecroppers in Texas and Oklahoma, they owned NOTHING, not even the land that they farmed. Yet they raised 9 children, 8 boys and one girl. My Dad, and every one of his siblings left that farm as soon as they could, they all entered into the work force and made a life for themselves and their families, while bringing Mom and Dad out of that life too. They grew up poor in possessions, yet each one did well for themselves and until that fateful day when the two fought over 700 dollars, one would say their lives were complete. It is the continued lust to acquire more and more that is the poison of our lives and society.
So how do we live our lives that we don’t fall into this trap that so easily ensnares us? St. Paul tell us that we have died with Christ in our Baptism, but we are also raised with him to live our lives supernaturally. This is why most Baptismal Fonts that one can walk into, have three steps down and three steps up, we are entering into the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus which all happened in three days. We share in the glorious life of Christ in the here and now! We are told to seek the things above, not the things below. Ours is a spiritual life. When we walk this walk and talk this talk, it does not demand a lesser commitment, but a greater commitment to building up a more humane world. Work, family relationships, social involvements-every aspect of human affairs- should be done in a spirit of faith and done out of perfect love. We live for God, not ourselves. St. Paul reminds us that here, there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythican, slave, free; but Christ is al and in all. To put it into today’s world: There is no longer Anglo and Hispanic or Black, or Asian, or Indian, there is no us and them, there is only Christ who is all and in all who call his name. Remember, St. Paul is writing to Christians who had these divisions in their community. We are all one Body, we draw our strength from Jesus Christ and his family, the Church. Let us look for ways to bring the Kingdom of God/the Peace of God to our world. Let me tell you about the missions…