Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sermon on the rich man who built more barns, August 1st

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time. August 1, 2010.
Gospel. Luke 12:13-21. The rich man who built more barns.

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.”

It strikes me that – although children are generally very selfish and possessive, often refusing to share toys and so forth – they nevertheless have an incredible capacity for particular acts of generosity. Even if most children, most of the time, think the world revolves around themselves; they are still able to be particularly kind in particular circumstances.
I can call to mind a family practice from my own childhood, one which I believe is common to many families: this is the practice of allowing the children to put the family’s donation into the collection basket at Mass. Many children really do seem to enjoy having the privilege of making the Sunday donation to the Church…
…now don’t worry, this is not going to be a homily about giving to the Church! What I am talking about here, is the incredible capacity which children have for generosity, and the great pleasure that children take in being generous.

I think that we all know at least part of the reason why children can be so generous…they are giving away their parents’ money! The mothers and fathers here know just how easy it is for children to give away their parents’ hard-earned wages!
But there is a deeper truth being expressed here. Children are able to be generous, precisely because they recognize that whatever they have has been given to them by their mother and father who love them. Children trust that their parents will continue to care for them in the future, just as they have cared for them in the past. And, because of this trust, they then feel free to give generously and lovingly to others.

Somewhere along the line, the rich man of today’s Gospel parable lost that sense of trust. He does not think of what he has as a gift which God has given him. He sees everything solely in relation to himself.
The rich man no longer sees himself as a child of God, as one who receives good things from the Lord; and therefore, he is no longer able to trust in God, but he only trusts in himself. He feels all the pressures of life; and he believes that he alone can solve these difficulties, that he alone can provide for his future needs.

Failing to recognize that the good things he has are gifts from God, the rich man feels no need to give to others. Having lost his view of heaven, he no longer sees earth clearly. He had a bountiful harvest, he should have been generous in his almsgiving. Having received much from the Lord, he should have felt moved to give to others. But this man has no interior life, he has no understanding of his reliance on God; and so he cannot understand that the poor rely upon the rich. Because he does not recognize his own need for God, he does not recognize the needs of the poor.

My brothers and sisters, without a firm commitment to the interior life, to the life of prayer, we will never grow in a true love for the poor. Until we see ourselves as true children of our heavenly Father, we will never recognize our neighbor as a true brother or sister in Christ.
On the other hand, as we accept the Love of God into our hearts, a Love so great that it led the Eternal Word who was rich to become poor for our sakes; how could we ever remain rich when so many are poor?