18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Lk. 12:13-21 NIV).
I had to take a long pause after reading all the scriptures for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time; they hit home. Since the passing of my father last year, the cleaning out and giving away process has sparked many conversations (a few heated, unfortunately) about my families’ tendency to hoard. While I would want to pride myself on not allowing my possessions to control me, I still have the family trademark of having an abundance of unnecessary items. Why do I have them? Perhaps it was at one point to provide in ministry or share with others but now, it seems to be just pure laziness (perhaps even the sin of sloth), allowing other worldly matters to stand in the way of blessing others. Sound familiar?
In today’s gospel, we read about the rich young man who was blessed with an amazing harvest but was planning to tuck it all away for himself. Don’t get me wrong, this is not to say that we cannot plan for a vacation or even retirement. But the foolishness and vanity in today’s readings are not because someone has bank accounts, 403(b), IRAs, stocks, or bonds, it is forgetting that “to whom much is given, much is expected” (Lk 12:48 NIV). Walking the fine line between looking at wealth as a personal accomplishment versus a tool to assist others, makes the difference between sin and charity. The sin of pride can occur when a person essentially takes spiritual credit for an accomplishment, not recognizing that the blessing was given by the Father. And of course, when we fail to see Christ in ourselves and others, we tend to lack charity.
We, like the rich young man, fail to be “rich in what matters to God.” The prophet Micah explains what we need to do very plainly:
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
One of the great adages that I have tried to emulate that is attributed to Mahatma Gandhi is, “Live simply, so that others might simply live.” It is a challenge for me to truly see others when I am consumed with my own concerns. When I fail to display the love of a believer and communicant of Jesus, I epitomize Peter. I like to think that when Peter got out of the boat to walk toward Jesus, he felt safe and secure until he looked down. When the realities of the world consumed Peter and he focused on himself—what are the others thinking, fears, and anxieties flooded his mind, he began to sink (Mt 14:22-23 NIV). Instead of looking down and turning inward, let us lift our heads and focus our eyes on God, in all the various ways He presents Himself to us.
Author: Kimberly Woods-Hopwood, MAPS, MSW, CSW
Administrative Assistant for Catholic Schools & Faith Formation
Diocese of Shreveport
Parish: St. Jude Catholic Church, Benton, LA