Sunday Reflection - 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Posted: Mon, 01 Aug 2022 08:34
When I was a student, we once did an exercise: you had to imagine that your house is on fire, and you have to get out quickly—what do you take with you? I have repeated the exercise with many people on Retreat days, and the results have not really changed over the years. People tend to 'take' mementos of loved ones: special gifts or trinkets that mean a lot to them. I do remember one Salesian, now with the Lord stating that his credit card and passport would be all that he needed in such an eventuality! The fact is that we all have that mug bought by a special person. There may be a picture from a family member posted on the fridge at home. You might be wearing a ring or a locket that was gifted by someone dear to you. These simple little things mean so much and are the real treasures of our lives. Jesus is asking a simple, but crucial, question in the gospel today: what are your priorities?
The parable of the 'Rich Fool' always makes a deep impact on me, as Jesus shows us what really is important in life. This powerful farmer had it all, in terms of processions and wealth in 1st century Palestine: successful crop rotation, resulting in a bumper harvest, meaning that he would have to build brand new barns. He was a real success story-but Jesus sees him as a fool. The Biblical meaning of "fool" is one who rebels against God or who has forgotten the Divine. The man of the parable is so concerned with maintaining his wealth that there is no place for God in his life. He will die that night, and despite his possessions, he will appear before God empty-handed. It reminds me of a lovely tale, probably based on fact, of a famous Wall St. banker on holiday in the Caribbean. He came across this fisherman dozing in the summer sun—relaxing and enjoying his rum punch. The banker challenges him to work harder. 'Why?' Came the reply from the contented fisherman.
'You get more boats. You could employ locals. You could catch more fish. You could make more money', claimed the banker—eager to see this man achieve his business potential.
'But why?' the fisherman asked from his hammock
The banker felt he had the obvious answer that was going to ensure that the fisherman would have no comeback, 'so you can relax in the sun, drinking rum punch!'
'So, what am I doing now?' asked the fishermen before he took another sip of his punch and closed his eyes. The fisherman was happy with his lot.
There is a danger that, in our desire, to be perfect in everything that we do or say, that we ignore the genuine good that is already in our lives. Never overlook or underestimate the joy and brightness you can bring to the life of others. God is in the ordinary as well as the extraordinary. Our consumer society bombards us with requests for the latest this or that, as an evening watching TV will reveal. Our world will continue to turn if we do not have the latest mobile phone or Amazon Prime special deal.
We are invited to share our treasure of generosity, our treasure of care, our treasure of understanding and acceptance of others. If we look to the life our saints, we see what motivates them: an honest desire to share in the life, ministry, and Word of Jesus Christ. It is lovely to have nice things, and God bless you if you have them. Today is that chance to see what really matters in life. Today is that chance to say what you would take out of that burning room, showing what you do value. Today is that chance to reflect on those gifts that are dear to you.
Author: Fr Gerry O'Shaughnessy SDB