1.Ecclesiastes 1:1:2; 2:21-23
2. Colossians 3:1-5,9-11
Gospel: Luke 12: 13-21

 " We become obsessed because of what we possess."

 A certain preacher in the course of his preaching noticed that in the congregation there was a woman who begun to wipe as soon as he began to preach. A preacher thinking that he had made a big catch he preached even with a loud voice. The more he preached the more the woman cried. After the preaching was over, then it came a time to give testimonies. Immediately the preacher pointed his finger to the woman and said, " Sister I can see you were mightily moved as we proclaimed the word of God. Now you can please share with us what it is that convicts your spirit so much." The woman hesitated but the pastor insisted, so she went up and took the microphone. " you see, " she began, " Last year I lost my he-goat, the most precious thing  I possessed. I prayed and cried much over it and then I forgot all about it. But as soon as you came out to preach and I saw your goatee, it reminded me all over again and again of the he-goat. I still cry whenever I remember it." She did not remember one word of what the preacher said.

Dear brothers and sisters as we celebrate the eighteenth Sunday of the year, we are reminded about what we possess and their outcome with regard to our relationship with God and our fellow brethren. Possessions are necessary for life. But possessions can assume such an importance in one's life that they may become obsessions. When it happens that one is so much concerned with the things that one could have and that he cannot have, so much so that one can no longer hear the urgent call of God, then one has indeed got one's priorities all mixed us. Such is the man in today's gospel who asks Jesus to come and make his brother give him his share of the family inheritance. Jesus is not against him having more wealth, nor is he against justice being done between him and his brother. Jesus is rather disappointed that after listening  to all his preaching, the first concern of this woman who was brooding over her lost goat while the words of life were falling on deaf ears. Like the woman, this man could probably not remember one word of what the preacher said.

Jesus by assuming that there could be more people in the crowd like this man, turns and says to them, " Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." ( Luke 12:15)
What kind of greed here we are talking about? The man was only asking for justice to be done between him and his brother. Shouldn't a man of God be concerned for fairness? O yes. Jesus warns us that greed comes in many guises, even in the guise of concern for justice. Have you ever heard a respectable man opposing plans to improve conditions for welfare recipients: " I have worked and paid taxes all my life. How can the government spend my money on welfare recipients who do nothing but sit down and do drugs all day?" Sounds like an argument for justice and fairness. But it could indeed be greed in disguise. That is why Jesus warns us and emphasizes it: " Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed." Greed can be upfront or subtle, conscious or unconscious. We must be on our guard against greed in all its forms.

To make further illustration concerning greed, Jesus tells us the parable of the Rich Fool. When you read the parable you ask yourself, " What wrong did this man do?" Think about it. The man did his honest work on his farmland. The land gave a good harvest. Surely it was his right to be proud of what he harvested. He decided to build a large storage for the crop so that he could live the rest of his life on Easy Street. Only he did not know the rest of his life was less than twenty- four hours. Jesus uses him as an illustration of greed even though he took no one's thing. Actually he did not do something wrong. His greed lies in what he did not do? then what is the concern of Jesus to a man who seems right and Just? He wants security in the future, but he does not look far enough into the future beyond death to a security that only God can guarantee. Thus we need to avoid greed in all its forms. A man may be wealthy, but his possessions do not guarantee him life.

A famous writer was once quoted saying about greed that it is" the belief that there is no life after death. We grab what we can and then hold onto it hard." This is the reason per why the rich man qualifies as an example of greed. Now you see why Jesus was so hard on greed. Greed is the worship of another god. The name of that god is Money or Materialism. Today's gospel invites us to believe in the God of Jesus Christ alone can give eternal life and not in the god of this world who gives us the false promise of immortality through accumulation of possessions.

In our first reading from the book of Ecclesiastes ( also known as Qoheleth), a book that was probably written between 380 B.C and 200 B.C. Solomon is regarded as the author of the book in keeping with the tradition that  he is the source of Israel's wisdom. We hear many times the short sentence " Vanity of vanities. All is vanity!" with regard to our today's readings it reminds us that in comparison with the things of God, human endeavors are fleeting and insubstantial. ( The word for " vanity" in the Hebrew language means, " vapor," and thus the author of the book of Ecclesiastes gives us a vivid picture of human activity as amounting to nothing compared as water vapor that rises into the air and is quickly dispersed.). The passage selected in our gospel today, as we have seen earlier goes on to apply this view even to the legitimate wealth gained by hard work. It becomes mysterious that death normally forces one who has toiled legitimately to vacate life and to leave the results of his toil to someone else, possibly to one who has not toiled at all.

How to be rich in the matters of God/ Acknowledging the Lord as the Source of all Good.

Being rich in the matters of God means first all having God where he belongs in our lives. The person rich in the matters of God has placed God first in his life. It begins by acknowledging that everything has its source in God, everything except sin is His creation. All we possess are all His gifts to us.

Rich in the matters of God begins with an attitude of heart that sees ourselves not as owners in the ultimate sense of anything, but rather as stewards of gifts that God has entrusted to us. The simple and easiest question to ask ourselves is that where did we get all we possess like intelligence, energy, abilities, health etc? The answer is very clear, that all of them are from God.

The one rich in the matters of God has a grateful heart rather than a grasping hand. The person rich in the matters of God is not overwhelmed with anxiety and worry, but trusts that the Lord who has provided in so many ways in the past will not abandon him or her in the present moment or in the future years.

Let us end our reflection with this little story:  It happened that there was a famous gambler who said: "  I would do anything, even the devil's work to see the lotto winning numbers ahead of the draw. I would become the richest man in the world."
Well, he got his wish. A messenger came to his door and handed him a newspaper dated one week ahead. Excited, the man turned to the page where the winning numbers were listed. There before his eyes were all the numbers that would entitle him to win millions of dollars. He was beside imagining himself what he would do with all the amount of money. But as he turned the pages, his heart skipped a beat. For there he saw his name printed in big, bold prints- in the obituary! On the day he wins all those millions, he will also die.
Jesus understands our cravings for security, however, he wishes that we put that yearning in a proper perspective.

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Chapisha Maoni