Wednesday, July 31, 2019

So! You Won the Lottery! What's Next??? (18th Sunday Ordinary Time C Bible Study Recap)

Saint Ignatius of Loyola


Some time ago, after my husband Bill died (please pray for the repose of his soul…thanks!) I went on a cruise. It was wonderful! In — I think it was Barbados — I got off and headed toward what looked like a jolly picnic hosted by some of my fellow cruisers.

It wasn't all that "jolly." It was a Support Group…for Lottery Winners!

Can you imagine? A bunch of people helping each other through the trauma involved with becoming instant millionaires! As a new widow, escaping, for the time being, anyway, the dread of wondering how I was going to even pay for this cruise (I did, don't worry!), I couldn't help myself…I crashed the party.

And got an earful! Among all the groans and sorrows of these people, one statement, from a lady, sticks in my mind:

"My family is looking forward to my death."

Enough for me…I left the party and took refuge on the beach. But I thought about this group tonight on the way home from a terrific session.

Sunday's First Reading…

…can be, if not reading the entire Book of Ecclesiastes, interpreted as simply: "Life Sucks. And Then You Die."

There's so much more to this Book! Do, if you get a chance, read the whole thing. But also? Read — no devour! -- Sunday's First Reading. It'll prep you right good for the Gospel…and not, incidentally, Saint Paul's Epistle!

"Seek the things that are above" we thought, is pretty much the theme this Sunday.

The "Rich Fool" was a lottery winner.

He didn't need the extra dough. We know this because in Jesus' parable, we learn that he already had ample room to store his crops. But then God gave him more. And he didn't get the memo…just like the guy who asked Jesus to "settle" (that is, rule in his favor) the family relative's estate…just as we so often do not. I know I don't. Not always.

We need to remember that we can't take it with us when we leave this pilgrimage. Nor should we want to! Because if we play our cards right — meaning if we live our lives right — these beautiful gifts that God has given us this day needn't be, as good old Qoheleth  says, just a "vanity."

Hey, we prayed for you! Please remember us in your prayers, including,

Your humble scribe,

Kelly <--extra br="" coming="" stuff="" up="">
Basil the Great: What do we find in this man? A bitter disposition, hatred of other people, unwillingness to give. This is the return he made to his Benefactor. He forgot that we all share the same nature; he felt no obligation to distribute his surplus to the needy. His barns were full to the bursting point, but still his miserly heart was not satisfied. Year by year he increased his wealth, always adding new crops to the old. The result was a hopeless impasse: greed would not permit him to part with anything he possessed… You who have wealth, recognize who has given you the gifts you have received…You are the servant of the good God, a steward on behalf of your fellow servants. Do not imagine that everything has been provided for your own stomach. Take decisions regarding your property as though it belonged to another. Possessions give you pleasure for a short time, but then they will slip through your fingers and be gone, and you will be required to give an exact account of them. “What am I to do?” It would have been so easy to say: “I will feed the hungry, I will open my barns and call in all the poor…” (Basil, Homilies on Riches [trans. E. Barnecut], p. 104-105)

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Points to Ponder, by Doctor Scott Hahn

The Fool’s Vanity

Trust in God - as the Rock of our salvation, as the Lord who made us His chosen people, as our shepherd and guide. This should be the mark of our following of Jesus.

Like the Israelites we recall in this week’s Psalm, we have made an exodus, passing through the waters of Baptism, freeing us from our bondage to sin. We too are on a pilgrimage to a promised homeland, the Lord in our midst, feeding us heavenly bread, giving us living waters to drink (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-4).

We must take care to guard against the folly that befell the Israelites, that led them to quarrel and test God’s goodness at Meribah and Massah.

We can harden our hearts in ways more subtle but no less ruinous. We can put our trust in possessions, squabble over earthly inheritances, kid ourselves that what we have we deserve, store up treasures and think they’ll afford us security, rest.

All this is “vanity of vanities,” a false and deadly way of living, as this week’s First Reading tells us.

This is the greed that Jesus warns against in this week’s Gospel. The rich man’s anxiety and toil expose his lack of faith in God’s care and provision. That’s why Paul calls greed “idolatry” in the Epistle this week. Mistaking having for being, possession for existence, we forget that God is the giver of all that we have, we exalt the things we can make or buy over our Maker (see Romans 1:25).

Jesus calls the rich man a “fool” - a word used in the Old Testament for someone who rebels against God or has forgotten Him (see Psalm 14:1).

We should treasure most the new life we have been given in Christ and seek what is above, the promised inheritance of heaven. We have to see all things in the light of eternity, mindful that He who gives us the breath of life could at any moment - this night even - demand it back from us.