Monday October 21, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Ephesians 2:1-10) Gospel (St. Luke 12:13-21)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord again exhorts us to make sure that we are growing rich in what matters to God, in what is truly important for eternity rather than trying to be rich in material possessions, which we are all going to have to leave behind anyway. Now, He is not saying that we should not have any material possessions; obviously, we need what is necessary for raising a family and being able to do whatever might be required of work or what not. But what He is telling us is to be very careful to avoid greed. And He makes it very clear: to avoid greed in all of its forms, whatever form that happens to be. It is not just about "I want more money" but it is all about the self. We always want more for the self and that is what He is telling us to be cautious of.
Saint Paul makes the same basic dichotomy and he tells us that we used to live according to the flesh. We used to live just like the people of the world, he tells us. He says, "You were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you once lived following the age of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air." We had given in to the desires of the flesh, but he tells us now that we are in Christ, that it is not the way we are supposed to be living anymore. And so, again, we see very clearly that dichotomy between the way of the world and the way of Christ. The way of the world is the way of the flesh; it is the way of the self; it is putting the self first; it is wanting our own selfish pleasures; it is looking out for the flesh; it is being greedy; it is doing everything that we want for our own pleasure. What Saint Paul is telling us, and what Our Lord is telling us as well, is that we need to keep our focus on Christ.
Jesus tells us that we have to become rich in what matters to God, to store up treasure in Heaven. Saint Paul, on the other hand, says it this way: that God "brought us to life with Christ even though we were dead in our transgressions and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus." So the riches that we have are the riches of God, the riches of God's grace. If we have the Lord, we have everything because God created everything. As Mother Teresa of Calcutta once told somebody when they were giving her some grief about not wanting more money: "God has all the money in the world. He can do with it whatever He wants."
It is the same with us. If we have the riches of God, because we have God Himself, then we have everything. We do not need more; we just simply need to trust that God, who is rich in mercy, is going to provide whatever it is that we need. On our part, we must be storing up treasure in Heaven. We need to stop worrying about the self and the desires of the flesh and all the things of the world, and we need to start thinking about the desires of the soul. We need to start thinking about what God would want us to do and we need to be about storing up things of Heaven. That is where the dichotomy lies. Saint Paul makes very clear that we used to be about the former, but we are in Christ Jesus now - we have been raised up with Christ and we have been seated already at God's right hand spiritually - therefore, our focus needs to be on Him. Our focus needs to be spiritual. Our focus needs to be on God and storing up for ourselves treasure in Heaven and what truly matters to God.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.