03 August 2013

WE RESOLVE NOT TO BE IDIOTS

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lk 12:13-21 (Eccl 1:2; 2:21-23 / Ps 90 / Col 3:1-5, 9-11)






See how beautifully Jesus drives home His point today.  The Gospel begins with a man who asks Jesus to divide the inheritance between him and his brother.  It ends with Jesus telling him how the same inheritance divides his brother and him.  Indeed, greed slaughters relationships without mercy.

Together with pride, avarice, sloth, lust, envy, and gluttony, greed is one of the Seven Capital Sins.  It ruins anything and anyone it touches.  It breaks families.  It divides communities.  It brings a nation down.  It makes monsters out of people.  It condemns a soul to hell.  The greedy is a prisoner of hell while still struggling on earth.  But a person who is not greedy already experiences heaven though still living on earth.

What is the difference between heaven and hell?  Here is one!

Both in heaven and hell is served a lavish, eternal banquet.  Both in heaven and hell are spoons and forks twice the size of a person’s arm.  Strangely though despite the equally lavish banquet in both places and the same size of eating utensils given to citizens of both places, only those in heaven are happy while those in hell are all sad.  Why?  Because those in heaven feed one another and are therefore satisfied, but those in hell refuse to feed one another and are thus starving.  Heaven is not exclusively for smart people.  But hell is definitely for idiots.

Do you know that God rarely appears in parables?  But He does so in this one for today.  He speaks to the man who, refusing to share with others his rich harvest, decides to hoard everything for himself.  Imagine, even his conversation he keeps to himself!  “Idiot!” God shouts at him, “This very night you shall die.  And to whom will all your possessions belong?”

Indeed, the rich man is an idiot.  “Idiot” comes from the Greek word, idiotes, which means “the one who is alone.”  That rich man in the parable is isolated by his greed.  Surrounded by all his wealth, his life is nonetheless empty, empty of any meaningful relationship with his fellow human beings.  Greedy that he is, the very possessions he hoards possess him.  Indeed, we have no adjective to describe such a man but “idiot”.

Greedy people are idiots and idiots go to hell.  Idiots go to hell precisely because they are greedy.  There are no greedy people in heaven because heaven is only for those really share their blessings with others.  Let us say ‘no’ to greed.  Let us all go to heaven.  Let us not be idiots.  We are meant for heaven.

Are we greedy?  Are we idiots?  Do we really share our blessings with others?  What and how much of what we have do we cheerfully share with others?  Do we really possess what we think we possess or what we possess actually possesses us?  Are we possessed or are we blessed?

Blessed are they who die to themselves.  They are the ones, according to the Apostle Paul in the second reading today, whose selves are renewed in the image of their Creator.  What is God’s image?  God’s creativity moves out to others.  Simply put, God shares His richness with others without end.  And in Christ Jesus, we constantly behold God giving Himself away.  Blessed are they indeed who strive to be configured to Christ.

Jesus is the anti-thesis of the rich man in the parable today.  In contrast to that idiot, Jesus spends Himself for others.  He spends His whole life sharing His gifts: love, forgiveness, insight, prayer, parables, time, energy, His very life.  And in sharing His gifts with others, Jesus creates new life for them.  He keeps nothing to Himself because He sees Himself as having nothing by Himself but all that He has is grace.  Chapter 14 of the Gospel of John gives us a glimpse into the mind and heart of Jesus: Everything He is and has comes from the Father.  We can almost say without a fault that what Jesus owns, Jesus owes!

Jesus is not vain, and so must we also never be.  The first reading today recites to us the misfortunes of people who are consumed by vanities in life.  All of us have vanities, haven’t we?  Some have major, major vanities, while others have minor ones.  Yet, still, if we are honest enough, we see how vain we are compared to Jesus, and yet we profess to be His disciples, His followers, whose ultimate joy is to become like Him.

Be honest before Jesus, what is your vanity?  Be honest with your self, how vain are you?  Be honest before Jesus and your self, do you really want to live your life that way?

Vanity is the mother of greed.  People who are obsessed with vain things in life are the ones who find most difficult to share with others.  Worse, people who are vain are often people who use others because of their greed for more.  But when is more enough?  Never.  Only Jesus is enough for us.  And, again, Jesus is not vain, not greedy, not an idiot.

If we are true to our claim that we are disciples of Jesus, we will seriously consider living creatively as Jesus hopes for in each of His disciples.  We shall regard everything as grace and therefore we shall live our lives as stewards of God’s blessings.  We shall shun all vanities and therefore we shall spend our lives only for what is truly essential; and what is truly essential is not how rich we are but how holy, not how loved we are but how loving.  We shall avoid idiocy in all its forms and therefore we shall build meaningful relationships with others, relationships that are marked by the qualities of Jesus’ creative loving.

Jesus is not an arbiter in any dispute among idiots.  He will, however, show them how unwanted and yet deep-seated their idiocy is.  And if they are willing, Jesus, too, has the remedy to their idiocy: His very life for them to follow and His abiding grace for them to be strong in their resolution to change for the better.

In this Holy Mass, we bow our heads and confess our idiocy before God and one another.  But the Lord still looks at us with so much love and continues to share Himself with us.  Because of the Eucharist we now shall partake of, may have hearts more willing share with others whatever we have because we have experienced that indeed everything is grace.  We resolve not to be idiots; we decide to be blessed because “living now we remain in Jesus the Christ.”

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