Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Pete Iorio
July 30, 2022 - 5:00 PM
July 21, 2022 - 8:30 AM
I will always remember a scene that took place at my sister‘s wedding over 3 decades ago. My aunt was upset that her father’s sister was present at the family wedding. She started railing to me: that woman is a thief; she stole our father‘s inheritance. And I being a foolish young man tried to argue with her and say that it was not true. I learned my lesson about that. My other aunt who saw us in a heated discussion at what was supposed to be a very happy occasion came and separated us and refocused us on what we were supposed to be doing which was celebrating my sister and her new husband.
The message from the teaching of Jesus in the gospel reminds me of that encounter. Greed can rear its ugly head in any family and at the most inopportune times… Like weddings and especially some funerals I have encountered.
In the Gospel, Jesus refuses to arbitrate a family dispute over possessions. In essence, Jesus was counteracting a common belief of Judaism at that time that a sign of God‘s favor was wealth and prosperity. I hear that some some Christian people believe that to this day. But that is not what Jesus said at all. In fact he said just the opposite. Remember the beatitudes… blessed are the poor in Luke 6 verse 20.
If I look at the question that the man asked Jesus it was about justice and fairness. Tell my brother to share the inheritance with me. Isn’t it a reasonable request that we seek justice? Shouldn’t an inheritance be distributed fairly? I do believe that those are important virtues to seek in community or in society. Justice is a virtue of the Christian life.
But Jesus knows the human heart. He addresses the man at a deeper level. Take care to guard against all greed. Greed is a selfish and excessive desire for more of something such as money or stuff than what is really needed. So the individual must ask the question of him or herself do I really need this money or this thing? Or is this something that I want, a desire that will make me feel better orbe better or equal in the eyes of others?
This topic of sibling rivalry goes back to the story of Cain and Abel where Cain kills his brother Abel because his father favored his brother over him. So greed can also be an excessive desire for love and attention.
An important skill in the spiritual life is to be self-aware… To know your feelings and to know yourself… . When you react internally to something that is going on.
Jealousy is a feeling that can rise up out of us because we feel slighted or less than the other person. Greed also is something that can rise up within us because we feel that a particular thing oramount of money will be able to satisfy us. But truly, Jesus is getting at the fact that what pleases God is to know that we are beloved of God no matter who we are or what we have. The parable focuses on the truth that earthly things (as good as they are and as wonderful as they are) are not the most important. Loving relationships are the wealth and richness that God desires among us.
One of the things that I learned in the engaged encounter movement is that we have emotional bank accounts. Loving relationships are built on trust. So different things that we do or say can either build up trust or tear it down. By proactively doing things that build trust in a relationship, one makes deposits into an emotional bank account.
I think of it in this way: if the two greatest commandments are to love God and love our neighbor, then what matters most is being rich in love. We do this in concrete ways when we build trust in our relationship with God by daily prayer, reading Scripture,adoration of the blessed sacrament, praying the rosary, going to mass often, not out of obligation but out of love and desire to build up our emotional bank deposits.
In a similar way, we can be proactive in doing positive things for our neighbor starting with the people in our family… Such as
- Greet them as they come home
- Really listen- no interrupting or looking at your phone.
- Spend time with them- play a game or cook with them.
- Notice what they are doing.
- Attend their activities.
- Be kind and patient.
- Apologize when you make a mistake.
To do these types of things is to be rich in what matters to God.