Eccl 1:2, 2:21-23
Ps 90 R/. Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
1 Cor 12:31-13:8
Today in our society, we’re often told that it’s not appropriate to talk publicly about sex, politics, religion and money; they’re too sensitive of topics, they say. Funny enough, these were some of Jesus’ favourite topics!
You see, these four topics — sex, politics, religion and money — are sensitive because we all have very strong opinions in these matters, and we don’t like it when someone else tells us what we believe is wrong; so we take them personally.
Well, this is precisely why Jesus ventures into these topics! He wants to show us that faith in Him has consequences in all areas of our lives, including sex, politics, religion and money. Faith must permeate all aspect of our lives. And how we handle four theses things has an impact on our life of faith. Here’s what I mean:
Some people today believe that being rich is evil. They over emphasise the fact that Jesus loves the poor (and only the poor!), and they believe that people are rich for one of two reasons: either they’ve made their money off the backs of others, or because they never give. Don’t think I’m exaggerating; I’ve even heard Priests preach this way. But this is nonsense! It’s not what Jesus taught. In fact, to be frank, this is a Marxist perspective; it’s not at all Christian! But today’s Gospel points us toward a proper interpretation of Jesus’ teaching about money.
You see, Jesus had wealthy friends: remember the Gospel two weeks ago about Mary and Martha? Well, their brother Lazarus was a wealthy man, and John tells us that he and Jesus were close friends: Jesus loved him, wrote John (Jn 11:3). Jesus also dined with as many rich people as He did the lowly. Remember Simon the Pharisee? Or Zacchaeus? Or even St. Matthew? Jesus didn’t discriminate against people with money; He loved them all the same, and so should we!
But what about today’s Gospel, you might say; didn’t Jesus just condemn the rich man? No, He didn’t; Jesus condemned greed, not riches! The rich man in today’s parable is condemned because he wanted to horde his wealth for himself and ignore the needs of others.
You see, God allows some people to be rich so that His generosity might be revealed in them. God gives to us so that we might give to others, and so that through giving, we might grow in charity and be saved. God doesn’t condemn the wealthy! Rather, He invites them to be generous as He is generous! God condemns those who are greedy, those who refuse to share and help others (rich or poor!). Wealth is a gift from God, and like all gifts, it’s intended for the blessing of many.
Now, I know I’m preaching to the choir here! I know many of you give generously to the Parish, and many of you also give generously of your money, as well as time, in other ways in the broader community. In just one month since I presented our Sanctuary project, we’ve already financed about 80% of both phases! The Knights of Columbus and the CWL actively fundraise for various groups in town, which many of you also support. We give around $14K every year to help Fr. Joe in his missions. And when it comes to our annual charities campaign, Together We Serve, our targets are four to five times higher than other Parishes our size because of your generous giving over the years. And we’ve exceeded these targets in both years! This is beautiful, because it means that you hear Jesus’ message; that you respond to His invitation to share with those in need. Thank you!! This makes us a community rich in faith and in charity, and that gives me hope and joy.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve done enough. Did you know that nearly 80% of our Parish finances come from just 26 families? That’s less than 10% of our Parish families! Now, I’m not saying you need to give more; I’m simply posing a question: ‘Is there more we can do? Individually? As a family? As a Parish?’ I want you to think about this, to pray about this: ‘Is there more I can do with the blessings God gives me?’
Many Christian communities require tithing; they expect parishioners to give 10% of their annual income to the Church, and they check to make sure! Even in a small Parish like ours, that would mean a collection of about $2M per year! Can you imagine that?! Imagine what kind of charitable services, programs and outreach we could do with that! We would never need another second or special collection again; we could even build a new church, debt-free, within just a few years!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you need to give 10%; that’s not what the Church asks. As St. Paul said to the Corinthians: Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7). But as St. Mother Teresa reminded us, we are called to ‘give until it hurts’. Sacrificial giving is a necessary response to the workings of God’s grace in our lives, to the gifts of the Gospel and of the Holy Spirit. Generosity is a fruit of faith.
So I invite you to think about this, to ask yourselves: ‘Am I attached to my possessions? Do I give enough? How can we, as a family, share the blessings we’ve received? How and where is God calling us to serve Him? To be generous?’
Thinking, praying and talking about these questions at home as a family will help us to be detached from our possessions — to see them as tools for God’s glory —, will open our hearts to grow in charity and concern for others, and will increase our capacity to be generous as God is generous. It’ll prevent us from being greedy with our possessions like the rich man in today’s Gospel, and teach us to build in our Parish an even stronger culture of generosity rooted in the love that Christ shows us.
So if you’re poor, bless the Lord! And give thanks that He’s made you more dependent on Him. If you’re rich, bless the Lord! And give thanks that He invites you to participate in His works of charity. In this way, we will all be rich toward God (Lk 12:21) and store up for ourselves treasure in Heaven (cf. Mt. 19:21; Mk 10:21). Amen.