Monday, October 22, 2007

Gospel for Monday, 29th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 12:13-21

Parable of the Rich Fool

[13] One of the multitude said to Him (Jesus), "Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me." [14] But He said to him, "Man, who made Me a judge or divider over you?" [15] And He said to them, "Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." [16] And He told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; [17] and he thought to himself, `What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' [18] And he said, `I will do this: I will store all my grain and my goods. [19] And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.' [20] But God said to him, `Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' [21] So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."


13. This man is only interested in his own problems; he sees in Jesus only a teacher with authority and prestige who can help sort out his case (cf. Deuteronomy 21:17). He is a good example of those who approach religious authorities not to seek advice on the way they should go in their spiritual life, but rather to get them to solve their material problems. Jesus vigorously rejects the man's request--not because He is insensitive to the injustice which may have been committed in this family, but because it is not part of His redemptive mission to intervene in matters of this kind. By His word and example the Master shows us that His work of salvation is not aimed at solving the many social and family problems that arise in human society; He has come to give us principles and moral standards which should inspire our actions in temporal affairs, but not to give us precise, technical solutions to problems which arise; to that end He has endowed us with intelligence and freedom.

15-21. After His statement in verse 15, Jesus tells the parable of the foolish rich man: what folly it is to put our trust in amassing material goods to ensure we have a comfortable life on earth, forgetting the goods of the spirit, which are what really ensure us--through God's mercy--of eternal life.

This is how St. Athanasius explained these words of our Lord: "A person who lives as if he were to die every day--given that our life is uncertain by definition-- will not sin, for good fear extinguishes most of the disorder of our appetites; whereas he who thinks he has a long life ahead of him will easily let himself be dominated by pleasures" ("Adversus Antigonum").

19. This man's stupidity consisted in making material possession his only aim in life and his only insurance policy. It is lawful for a person to want to own what he needs for living, but if possession of material resources becomes an absolute, it spells the ultimate destruction of the individual and of society. "Increased possession is not the ultimate goal of nations nor of individuals. All growth is ambivalent. It is essential if man is to develop as a man, but in a way it imprisons man if he considers it the supreme good, and it restricts his vision. Then we see hearts harden and minds close, and men no longer gather together in friendship but out of self-interest, which soon leads to strife and disunity. The exclusive pursuit of possessions thus becomes an obstacle to individual fulfillment and to man's true greatness. Both for nations and for individual, avarice is the most evident form of underdevelopment" ([Pope] Paul VI, "Populorum Progressio", 19).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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