Pastor's Desk

“What in Life is Weighing You Down?”

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

Today’s readings offer the grace of a powerful re-alignment of our lives – not focused on “what is on earth,” but on our life which is “hidden with Christ in God.”

Jesus finds himself facing an all-too-common family dispute: “Teacher, tell my brother share the inheritance with me.”  This statement has damaged more families than we can imagine. One might expect Jesus to say, “Tell your brother to come here and I will straighten him out.” Instead, Jesus says, “Take care to guard against all greed.” Jesus goes right to the heart of the issue – greed.

“Greed” is defined as a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (such as money) than is needed. But Jesus goes even further, by crafting a story about a man who has had an exceptionally good year. The man is fortunate enough to have more than he can store up. But the game changer is not in what he could have done with the excess but what he chose to do. He decides to build bigger barns and take care of his security for a long time to come.

The fortunate fellow had choices and he chose the one that benefitted himself rather than anyone else. At the junction of “What shall I do?” The man could have answered, “I have more than I need. I will share my good fortune with someone who did not have a good harvest. Or, he could have answered, I will give thanks to God, and focus on God’s goodness to me, and ask for the grace to be freer, more trusting in God’s love, so that I will fill my barn, share the rest, and be rich in what really matters to God.”

The tragedy, we are told is that the man will die that night and leave his plans for a secure future to foolishness.

The readings today actually invite us to a wonderful opportunity to re-align our perspective. What is it that I cling to? What is demanding our lives? Our possessions? Our second homes? Our third and fourth cars? Our 5 or 6 cell phones so every child can have their own. Is my status or my desire for more money weighing me down? What about all the things I have accumulated? All the things that we thought would sustain us in life do instead take our life from us, they weigh us down.

Discipleship and wealth do not mix.  Today’s readings personally challenge us to look at our lives and re-align them to live more freely as disciples of Jesus.

Ecclesiastes tells us that “All things are vanity.” It can be so easy to seek security in our assets: a large comfortable home, a well-paying job, hefty savings accounts, 3 or 4 cars, TV’s in every room of the house, and the list goes on. Now, before you start throwing things, let me say, none of those things are inherently bad – but they are not what will gain us eternal life.

I knew a young man who worked for a large corporation, worked more than 60 hours a week, had big, fine house, savings and his wife did not work outside the home. But he said to me, upon a re-alignment of his life, “Father, I had all the things I thought would make me happy, but I was miserable. I was making six figures and I wasn’t happy. I left that job and began working as the Business Manager for a Catholic parish making less than half of what I was making. Now, I am happy, me and my wife are spending more time together and I have found what makes me happy, being active in our parish and working for the church!

You see, the ultimate freedom is experienced not in all our possessions, but when our lives are humbly placed with Jesus, in God. That is where we will find happiness and real self-fulfillment. Surrender, and traveling this road of life with a lighter load of “possessions,” trusting in the mystery of God’s love for us, is tremendously freeing and the source of our happiness here, and for all eternity!