18th Per Annum 2019
It doesn`t take us much thought to realise that the reading for the Sundays of Ordinary Time are in a pattern that we may learn our Saviour`s teaching and, by the grace of the Holy Spirit come closer to Him. Last week we were taught both The Lord`s Prayer and how to persevere in prayer and to recognise God`s immense carte for us. Today`s Gospel reading is a great warning about getting the wrong priorities and depending upon the material and avaricious ways of this world instead of building up for ourselves treasure in the Kingdom of God. In answer to the request of a man wanting to get his share of the family inheritance Jesus refuses to act as arbitrator and, instead, tells the wonderful story of the rich man who had enjoyed the benefits of a good harvest from his land and who planned to knock down existing barns in order to build bigger ones to store his produce then telling himself that he had so much that he had plenty of good things laid by for many years to come and so he could take things easy and eat, drink and have a rare old time ignoring the fact that we never know when Almighty God might call our life here on earth to an end!!!Whose would these material possessions be then ? Jesus says, very clearly, “So it is when a man stores up treasure for himself in place of making himself rich in the sight of God.”
St. Paul`s letter to the Colossians is full of wisdom and practical instruction. Last week in chapter 2 we ready of how in Baptism we were buried or drowned with Christ that we might share the risen life of Jesus by being born again of water and the Spirit. In this third chapter, that we read part of today, Paul advises that followers of Jesus must let our thoughts be on heavenly things because we have died to earthly things and now the life that is in us is hidden with Christ in God and that when Christ is revealed – and as Paul puts it, He is our Life – we too will be revealed in all our glory with Him.
Paul again instructs the Colossians – and us too by implication – that we must kill everything in us that belongs only to earthly life: fornication, impurity, guilty passion, evil desires, and especially greed, which is the same thing as worshipping a false god – idolatry! He says, “You have stripped off your old behaviour with your old self, and you have put on a new self which will progress towards true knowledge the more it is renewed in the image of its creator; and in that image, there is no room for distinction for there is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything.
That short passage from Ecclesiastes or The Preacher sums up worldly values as nothing more than Vanity. We labour wisely, skilfully and successfully only to leave what is our own to someone else who has not worked for it at all.
Well, it is all pretty straightforward teaching but is it easy to follow ? The Devil will tempt us, in a multitude of ways, to do our own thing and the world, in particular through commerce and power-dealing sets different standards from God`s standards and we are almost always encouraged to put self first whether it is amassing possessions or ignoring the plight of others in order to get on.
Doubtless there will be some who might be minded, on getting home and sharing a meal, might decide to sit down and review or re-write their Will. There may be a few who will be so deeply touched that they will consider selling all their possessions to pursue a call to the Religious Life so that they can accumulate spiritual riches.
The Life of regular prayer and worship will, of course, be the help that we need in discerning how we shall live our lives with Jesus our Saviour being the most perfect example which should result in our realising two very major things about being a Christian:
The first is the recognition that in Jesus he is the Head of a new humanity, the Christian Community which is His Body the Church. It is only through Him that all the social barriers no longer stand between people. Race, culture or state of life can no longer divide Christians. There are no barriers to gender whether male or female, age, being young or old or somewhere in between, social status, being rich or poor, healthy or sick or even whether we be free or in prison. Christ alone breaks down all such distinctions for as St. Paul puts it: `He is all and in all.` (Colossiand 3,11.)
The second is practical action. We pray for others as well as our own needs and we seek to meet some of those needs by giving alms, by sharing food, by giving and receiving friendship and practical help, perhaps shopping for an elderly neighbour, inviting someone who is alone to come to church with you or invite them for a meal, helping those with handicaps or special needs, consoling the sorrowful and the bereaved, simply being encouraging or giving time to listen. Perhaps taking time to sort out the unused goods we have accrued to give to a charity shop or sell to help the poor or the mission of the Gospel, by being available for others.
In St. Matthew`s Gospel chapter 6 and verses 19 – 21 Jesus says.”Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”