Summary: There's an old story about a hermit who stumbled onto a cave in which was hidden an enormous treasure.
There's an old story about a hermit who stumbled onto a cave in which was hidden an enormous treasure. The hermit, being old and wise, realized what he had discovered and immediately took to his heels and ran from the cave as fast as he could. But as he was running, he came upon three brigands who stopped him and inquired as to what he was fleeing.
"I'm fleeing the Devil!" he said.
Curious, they said, "Show us."
Protesting all the way, he took them to the cave where he had found the treasure.
"Here," said the hermit, "is death which was running after me."
Well, the three thought the old man was crazy and sent him on his way. Gleefully reveling in their new-found treasure, they determined that one of them should go back to bring back some food, while the other two would prepare the treasure for hauling it away. One volunteered, thinking to himself that while in town he would poison the food and kill his rivals and have the treasure all to himself. But while he was away, the other two were thinking that they could kill him when he returned with the food and divide the spoils between just the two of them. This they did and then they settled down to eat their food and celebrate their successful plan. But their banquet turned out to be a funeral feast, because when the poison hit their stomachs, they too died, leaving the treasure as they had found it.
That is a story about greed. St. Thomas Aquinas defined greed as an immoderate love of possessing. E.g. even after someone is well-established in their field they feel insufficiently recognized; or the parent who feels their son or daughter never scores enough goals or points in sports or does not get straight A’s.
And Jesus says, "Beware of greed!" in our Gospel today.
So does our First Reading—which teaches that if you labor selfishly with no thought on how your salary or talents may help others, even at night you, as the laborer, does not have your mind at rest.
It speaks of the frustration of working hard and not making any progress.
The Saints say that a good index of how poor we are is how peaceful we are in spirit. Worry and anxiety about the things of this world are, on Christ’s own testimony, signs of a lack of trust in God’s providence. According to St. Alphonsus Liguori, this means detachment “not only from what is valuable, but also from what is trifling.”
Our Second Reading speaks of greed too: Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.
Put to death” -the dictionary tells us this is where the word 'mortify' comes from as in “mortify” your senses from the Latin mortificare to put to death, in reference to the old man, Adam, who lives in our fallen nature and inclines us toward sin.
“Seek what is above”, Paul says, “where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” Seek is a technical term in secular Greek for philosophical inquiry. What Paul is saying is that life has inherently determining and imprinted concerns which are usually represented as concerns about the elementary necessities of life like food and clothing but after the sacrifice of Jesus these concerns are to be oriented toward the Kingdom of God
Our Gospel teaches us that if we keep all our profits for ourselves it will end badly for us—like the Rich Fool, who God told, “this night your life will be demanded of you.”
Poem by C.T Studd --Only one life, twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
It’s Okay to be successful. Prosperity means to have no lack. E.g. “I have enough, I am enough, God is enough.”
Being rich for God means spending some of your treasure on what matters to God: like on the poor, widows, orphans, immigrants. If a person does not acknowledge other beings, he does not recognize the existence of God.
The Rich Fool had no gratitude but a crisis of greed: What should I do? We hear his monologue. “Mine all mine” His interior monologue has been overheard by an unacknowledged presence—God. The point—have a relationship with the giver of the gifts as you work in this world.
“rich in what matters to God.” What matters to God? How can focus on those things?
For reflection: In what ways do I yearn for more? How have I learned that possessing more does not make me anything more than I am?
“Demanded back” means that man’s earthly life is on loan from God; similarly Wisdom 15:8 says that “the life that was lent him is demanded back.”
Our call is to be rich in what matters to God.