Gospel reflection for Oct. 8, 2023, 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The parable we hear this weekend is about many things and can be read in a multitude of ways. While we often read this parable as a foreshadowing of the rejection of Jesus by the Jewish authorities, it can also be read as the rejection of the promises of God to each one of us. We can all allow the worldly allurements, the possibility of wealth, power or influence to reign supreme in our lives, so much so that we kill the prophets and the promise made to us for faithful discipleship. It is easy to believe that we are silencing the Lord through the noise of our lives.
It is very easy to overlook the poor and disenfranchised in our midst. It is easy to ignore the needs of others throughout the world, especially when they have very little impact on our daily lives. We are fascinated by the lifestyles of the super wealthy, and we all know who the wealthiest people in the world are. However, those same people are not fascinated by us and often couldn’t care less about our daily life experiences or plights. There are websites devoted to calling out a-listers and the wealthy for their total disregard of the welfare, feelings or dignity of the very people who make them famous.
Jesus tells a parable about a man who managed to earn a very generous harvest. His first thought was to build larger barns in order to store the grains so that he would have plenty of food going forward and not have to worry about a harvest in the future. While there is some wisdom there, he ignored the mandate of the law to include a share for the widow and the orphan, the poor and the outcast. His bounty could easily have eased the burden of others, but he thought solely of himself.
The parable then takes the ironic twist in that this same man should die as he completed his project of building his additional barns. He does not get to enjoy his harvest or rest in the luxury of his new-found wealth. Rather, he must account for of hat he has done -- or not done -- with his life.
In his case, the wisdom of this world was turned on its head -- the wisdom of a faithfilled life is brought to the fore.
While there is no prohibition in the Scriptures or in the Tradition of the Church in saving money, or even of amassing wealth, there remains the demands of the option for the poor and the call of charity in our lives.
Pope Francis made this observation in his Angelus address on July 21, 2022: “And so, we might think, should no one desire to get rich? Certainly, you can; rather, it is right to want it. It is beautiful to become rich, but rich according to God! God is the richest of all. He is rich in compassion, in mercy. His wealth does not impoverish anyone, does not create quarrels and divisions. It is a richness that loves to give, to distribute, to share. Brothers and sisters, accumulating material goods is not enough to live well, for Jesus says also that life does not consist in one’s possessions. It depends, instead, on good relationships — with God, with others, and even with those who have less. So, let us ask ourselves: How do I want to get rich? Do I want to get rich according to God or according to my covetousness? And, returning to the topic of inheritance, what legacy do I want to leave? Money in the bank, material things, or happy people around me, good works that are not forgotten, people that I have helped to grow and mature?”
This is the question that the Lord challenges us with in this parable -- a question that each one of us must ask ourselves at every point in our lives.
Father Garry Koch is pastor of St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel.