Rich in What Matters to God by Rev. Jack Peterson
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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Luke writes to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me." He replied to him, "Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?" Then he said to the crowd, "Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions."
Then he told them a parable. "There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, 'What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?' And he said, 'This is what I shall do. I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, "Now as for you , you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!"' But God said to him, 'You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?' Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God."
One's life does not consist of possessions." This part of the good news of Jesus Christ is becoming harder and harder for Christians to embrace. The growing prosperity of the average person in our country, coupled with the success of advertising and the tendency of our wounded human nature to seek comfort in the pleasures of life make it extremely hard not to focus our life's energies on accumulating wealth and enjoying the life of leisure that such wealth affords.
In today's Gospel passage from Luke, Jesus responds to a man who asks Him to get involved with a dispute with his brother over an inheritance. Jesus refuses to get involved, and teaches him: "Take care to guard against all greed, for though one be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions."
To better explain His point, Jesus tells a parable about a successful businessman who decides to tear down his barns and build larger ones to store his grain and other goods. Then, he will be able to rest, eat, drink and be merry for years to come. God says to him, "You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you." Jesus concludes, "Thus will it be for all who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God."
Each of us, if we want to be a true disciple of Christ, must seek to be rich in what matters to God. While everyone of us should work hard to provide for our own basic needs and those of our neighbor, especially our family, we must fight the powerful temptation to keep seeking more and more of this world's goods at the expense of becoming rich in what matters to God.
What matters to God? First, He wants us to be rich in humility. God wants us to come humbly before Him, recognizing that we are sinners in need of His mercy and children in need of His generous, fatherly care. God lavishes His love and blessings upon us. He loves to do it as a Father loves to bless a child with good things. He wants us to recognize the source and stand before Him with gratitude and humility.
To be rich in God's eyes is to be full to the brim with love. A deep awareness of God's warm, personal, boundless love, poured out principally in the Gift of His Son, Jesus, leads us to care for our neighbor with a wreckless abandon, regardless of how they treat us. The lives of the saints like St. John Bosco and St. Therese of Lisieux demonstrate what it means to be rich in this love for our neighbor as the fruit of God's love. St. John Bosco poured out his entire life taking boys off the streets, offering them loving kindness, teaching them the faith, offering them the sacraments, and giving them the skills necessary to be productive members of society.
Both Scripture and the long tradition of the Church teach us that we cannot store up treasure in heaven if we are not persons of deep prayer. Our treasure in heaven is, indeed, the the Lord. Our union with Him begins here on this earth and is perfected in heaven. We cannot know, love and serve the Lord in this life if we are not spending time with Him, getting to know Him, building an intimate relationship with Him, and allowing the light of His face to warm our hearts and enlighten our minds.
Jesus taught us by word and example that desiring and doing the will of His heavenly Father must be the hallmark of every Christian. Jesus spoke so often and with great passion of His mission to accomplish His Father's will. A prayerful review of the Gospels encourages a Christian to store up riches in heaven by dedicating his life, day in and day out, at every moment, to discerning and accepting the grace to be faithful to the Father's plan. This includes a willingness to suffer out of love for the Father and for the neighbor that He places along our journey.
Heavenly Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit and the profound grace of the Eucharist, do not let us get distracted by worldly allurements and earthly riches so that we fail to be rich in what matters to you. May our investment portfolio be diverse in humility, love, prayer, and a passion to do your will in all things.
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