2013-08-04a, 18th C, The Roller Coaster

Homily 08-04-13a
18th Sunday Ordinary Time C
Ecc 1:2; 2:21-23; Ps 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17;  Col 3:1-5, 9-11; Lk 12:13-21

(Scriptures included after homily)

If we ever get to thinking we’ve got it all figured out, like the rich man in Jesus’ story today, then that’s a good time to pick up our Bibles and read something like the story of Job, to remind ourselves how important God is in the picture, especially if it all starts to fall apart, as it did for Job.

And if we ever get to feeling like nothing in life makes any sense anymore, like the ‘vanity’ described in the Book of Ecclesiastes, then that’s a good time to pick up our Bibles and read something like the stories of Tobit or the Prodigal Son, to remind ourselves that there is a Plan that will all make sense in the end, when God is in the picture.


You see, even though we live in a world that could feel like a roller coaster, with “take your breath away,” Mt. Everest-highs when we’re happy, healthy, wealthy and secure and our vision seems perfectly clear, in the blink of an eye, we just might be plummeting down into a hot, dry, Death Valley-low of sickness, poverty, loneliness or darkness, never imagining that it could ever happen to us.

Unfortunately, sometimes it takes hitting that bottom to get us to realize how little control we really do have on this roller coaster we call life.


And yet there is a “fail-safe” in how we respond to those highs and lows.  His Name is Jesus.  Jesus is the ‘Great Leveler.’  Yet, in order for Jesus to be of any help to us, we need to get to know Him intimately.  We need to know who He really is.  And there are lots of ways of doing that.


One of the most important ways of getting to know Jesus, is being right where we are, here in Church, at Mass.  Because here, not only do we receive Jesus in Word and Spirit, but we receive Him physically as well, in the Blessed Sacrament.  This is one of the key treasures that will make us “rich in what matters to God.”


Of course, it’s just as important to be here with an open, and not a hardened heart, so that we can truly hear His voice speaking in our lives.  And if the angelic voices of those beautiful, little-ones nearby, keep us from hearing, remember, there’s always room up front.  You see, God wants us to be open with compassion and respect, for everyone around us.  If we can do this, then that’s another gem in our ‘treasure box’ for God.


Then, beyond just listening, we can get to know Jesus, as we said, by reading His Word in our Bibles.  You see, He gave us lots and lots of stories that were meant to guide us in ‘how to become rich in what matters to God.’  Stories of forgiveness, like the Prodigal Son.  Stories of compassion, like the Good Samaritan.  Stories of courage and stories of faith. Stories of volunteering and stories of total giving, “even unto death.


You see, eventually, those stories become OUR stories.  We were the “wealthy savers” who
instead of dying, discovered that it was not the ‘end of the world‘ when the economy flopped.  We were the ones who fed the poor through our generous giving.  We were the ones who welcomed the stranger with a smile at the door.  And we were the ones resurrected to a new life, from a world of material hopelessness.


When we can truly get to know Jesus, not only in the stories, but in one another, then, we’ll find, that the richness of our lives so far exceeds any monetary wealth, that no matter how low that roller coaster ever goes, even unto death, we are still at peace with Him, on that mountain-top of eternal hope.


And then we’ll hear our King say,
Come, you who are blessed by my Father, and inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”           Mt 25:31..

jmp 08-04-13


Scripture Readings for the Mass of 08-04-13
Eighteenth Sunday Ordinary Time C

First Reading:  Ecc 1:2; 2:21-23

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!

Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill, and yet to another who has not labored over it, he must leave property.  This also is vanity and a great misfortune.  For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which he has labored under the sun?  All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation; even at night his mind is not at rest.  This also is vanity.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17

R.  If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
You turn man back to dust, saying, “Return, O children of men.” For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday, now that it is past, or as a watch of the night.
You make an end of them in their sleep; the next morning they are like the changing grass, Which at dawn springs up anew, but by evening wilts and fades.
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants!
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness, that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days. And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours; prosper the work of our hands for us! Prosper the work of our hands!

Second Reading:  Col 3:1-5, 9-11

Brothers and sisters: If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.  Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator.

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.

Gospel:  Lk 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”  He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”  Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable.  “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.  He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’

And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.  There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’

But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’  Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”


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