Greed Grasps, Generosity Gains

Luke 12:13-21
Rom 4:20-25 / Lk.1:69-75

Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for though one may be rich, a man’s life does not consist of possessions.
(Luke 12:15)

All wealth in life is an illusion,
Gold here on earth is in heaven dross;
If your faith lies in your possession
A greater treasure will be your loss.

A man in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator? Then He said to the crowd, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed, for though one may be rich, a man’s life does not consist of possessions.” And He told them this parable: “A certain rich man’s land produced a bountiful harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded of you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasures for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.” (Luke 12:13-21)

Reflection

Our Lord’s preaching was rudely interrupted by this man who was more concerned about his worldly wants rather than the eternal lessons that our Lord was teaching. But Jesus always employed any situation as an occasion to impart His wisdom, and in this instance, He warned His listeners to be on guard against the sin of avarice. A man in the grip of greed is usually one who is concerned only of himself, and has little regard for others. The rich fool in Jesus’ parable is talking to himself, and even refers to himself (the words “I” and “my”) eleven times. There is no mention of thanks to God or others for his good fortune, nor even plans to share his bumper crop. In fact, typical of a shrewd Shylock, he even planned to hoard his crop so that he could command a higher price, instead of flooding the market to benefit the public.

Against this evil of avarice God gives us the grace of generosity. In our community’s worship assembly one Friday, our prayer leader chose the theme “Generosity”, which is quite fitting for this month of mission, a time when we are to give of ourselves by bringing Christ’s Good News of salvation to others, or by donating money to our missionaries or our seminarians. In the short personal testimonies that followed, we were touched to hear the many creative ways by which the Holy Spirit had led some members to “give without counting the cost.” Our worship leader shared about their sense of gratification in providing scholarship to an indigent youth who later became his mechanic. Another brother in Christ expressed his gratitude for the generosity of friends who helped him in his hospitalization expenses. One senior lady member even rued how frustrated she felt that she could not lend a huge amount of money to a colleague who sought her help. Many more shared about being charitable, but the most moving testimony was not about giving of her resources, but about sharing to a large audience in a mall a sister’s bout with cancer, and how good the Lord was for having healed her completely. What she gave was more valuable than money – to a lot of people suffering from afflictions– she shared her faith, and gave them hope.

Lord, give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Lest, having too much I deny You saying, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or being in want, I steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. (Prov. 30: 8-9) Thank You, Lord for everything in my life, especially for a loving family and a prayerful community. Amen.

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