18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (31 July)

First Reading: Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23
Gospel: Luke 12:13-21

Today’s gospel is surely a gospel for the consumerist society in which we live, where all that seems to matter to people is “storing up treasure” in order to be able, as the rich man in the parable says to himself, “take things easy, eat, drink and have a good time.” What provokes the response of the parable on the part of Jesus can also be seen as a preoccupation of our times: seeking arbitration in order to gain more possessions. Jesus warns against avarice, even in this case when the one looking for arbitration would seem to be in the right.

The most important word in the parable would seem to be “Fool!” The rich man who was preoccupied with his need for greater barns to store his great harvest was foolish in that he took the credit to himself rather than giving it to the land that had produced the crop, or to God who had given it. He was foolish in that, in providing for the future, he saw no need to consider life after death; the first reading will call this attitude “vanity of vanities.” He was also foolish in that he only took account of his own needs and was not willing to provide for the poor which would have made him “rich in the sight of God.”

18th sundayIn our Western world all of us can be too preoccupied with how we look and how we behave in a society that overvalues material possessions. The great number of refugees in our time, who have lost most of what they possess, can alert us to the transient nature of such things and call on us to share our goods instead of hoarding them.

Céline Mangan, O.P.

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