Fr. O’Connor’s Homily: July 31st, 2016

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time – C


Ecclesiastes 1: 2; 2: 21-23

Colossians 3: 1-5, 9-11

Luke 12: 13-21


Jewish people in Jesus’ time often took their disputes to their rabbis for a settlement.  And so a man in today’s Gospel comes to Jesus and says:  “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”

Jesus refused to get involved in anyone’s disputes about money.  But He does use this opportunity to lay down what His followers’ attitude toward material things ought to be.

To those who had an abundant supply of possessions, Jesus spoke this “parable of the Rich Fool.”  And two things stand out about this man.

First, he never saw beyond himself.  There is no other parable so full of the words I and my.  A schoolboy was asked what part of speech my is.  He answered, “An aggressive pronoun.”  I think he meant “a possessive pronoun.”  However, his term has its own accuracy.

The Rich Fool was aggressively self-centered.  It was said of a very self-centered young lady: “Edith lived in a little world that was bounded on the north, south, east and west by Edith.”

The famous criticism was made of a self-centered man:  “There is too much ego in his cosmos.”

An another is:  “The butler entered the room, a solemn procession of one.”

The Rich Fool had more goods than he could ever use.  Yet it never entered his mind that he should share some of them with others who needed them.  All he could think about was tearing down his storage barns and building larger ones.  Instead of finding his happiness in giving he foolishly tried to conserve it by hoarding.

A Christian scholar in England many, many years ago had a rule of life to save all he could and give all he could.  When he was at Oxford University, he had an income of 30 pounds a year.  He lived on 28 pounds and gave 2 pounds away.  When his income increased to 60, 90 and 100 pounds a year, he still lived on 28 pounds and gave the balance away.

The Romans had a proverb which said that money was like sea water:  the more a person drank the thirstier they became.  The attitude of the Rich Fool was always to get more for himself – and that is the opposite of the way of life that Jesus teaches us to follow.

The Rich Fool never saw beyond himself.

Second, the Rich Fool never saw beyond this world.  All his plans were made on the basis of life here on earth.

There is a story about a conversation between an ambitious young man and a wise older man who knew about life.

The young man said, “I will learn my trade.”  “And then?” asked the older man.

“I will set up my own business.”  “And then?”

“I will make a fortune.”  “And then?”

“I will grow old and retire and enjoy all of my money.”  “And then?”

“Well, I suppose that someday I will die.”  “And then?” came the last stabbing question.

The person who lives as though there is no world to come is destined some day for the greatest of shocks.

“Think of what is above, and not of what is on earth,” Saint Paul wisely tells us today in his letter to the Colossians.

If a person seeks the treasure of heaven, their heart will be fixed on heaven.  But if they seek the treasure of earth, their heart will be tethered to earth.  And someday they must say good-bye to all of their possessions.

For as the Spanish proverb says, “There are no pockets in a burial shroud.”

As Billy Graham once pointed out, “You never see a funeral hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer.”

When the richest man in town died, the local newspaper asked his pastor, “How much did he leave?”  And the pastor replied, “All of it!”

An American was traveling in Europe and went to visit a wise and holy rabbi.  The American was surprised when he saw how simply the rabbi lived – in a single room with only a bed, a book and a table and a chair – much like our Pope Francis.

“Rabbi, where is all of your furniture?” the American tourist asked.

“Where is yours?”  the rabbi replied.

“My furniture?  Why, I am only passing through here.”

“And so am I,” the rabbi responded.  “And so am I.”

And so are we, fellow Christian pilgrims.  And so Our Master teaches us:  “Store up for yourselves treasure in heaven.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart also be”  [cfr. Matthew 6: 19-21].