18th S. 2022: Possessed Much?

Today’s homily is for the eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 31, 2022, and the readings can be found by clicking here.

Jesus tells the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” I think there are many good people who fall into the trap of letting their possessions, possess them. Amazon Prime, Door Dash, and other immediate delivery services have made it very easy for us to spend our money. How many times have we impulsively purchased something that we may well have wanted at the time, but it’s still in the closet with a tag on it, is still in the garage in the box, or still remains in the kitchen unused after having if for months or even years–did we really even need it? 

Many homes have these differing personality types when it comes to possessions. Some put no investment in name brands and will wear almost anything. They are very happy with hand-me-downs and second-hand store items and are able to put every single thing to some good use…but they buy every single thing. At a discount, or in bulk, but every dollar is spent on really good deals…far too good to pass up. There are t.v. shows about this! And they are possessed with greed for things.

Others buy far less. Their lives appear minimalist and simple, but simple they are not. Upon inspection, the things they have are exceedingly expensive. Their wealth knows no middle ground, no “good-enough” to get the job done. Only name-brand clothing, high end technology, sunglasses, and cars. And they too are possessed with greed for the name. I know one woman who when shopping for a new washer and dryer called the store and said, “give me the most expensive washer and dryer you have,” but as we know, expensive doesn’t always mean better. 

The Gospel is a strong warning for us today: know this, none of us is promised tomorrow. One day we are here, and the next we are gone, as Denzel Washington famously said, “I’ve never seen a U-haul behind a hearse.” The actor said, “I’ve been blessed to make hundreds of millions of dollars in my life, but I can’t take it with me, and neither can you. It’s not how much you have,” he said, “it’s what you do with what you have.”  

I know it, you know it, and clearly, it’s not a new concept because Jesus and his hearers knew it too. They didn’t have the lottery in Jesus’ day–but they did have the harvest. Just the right seed, in the right soil, at the right time, with the right weather, and Boom! We need a bigger barn! Jesus says, be careful! Winning the Mega Millions Lotto doesn’t make you immortal! Just yesterday, someone from Illinois won 1.34 billion dollars…he or she is going to need a bigger barn, right?! No, better to have a bigger heart.

Today’s Gospel challenge is clear–have we been adequately generous with what we have? We say that everything we have is a gift from the Lord, but do we mean it? Are we generous with what we have, blessing others with our wealth? Sometimes we are generous with those who are close–who share our name, our interests, our race, or religion, but are less generous with those who are far from us–though maybe in much greater need. 

What great wealth we have been given. Each of us, blessed in abundance in a variety of ways. In the manner with which we’ve been blessed, we are called to give. If one is wealthy, then in financial support. If one is retired, then in time spent with others. If one is educated, then in educating others. Today Jesus calls us to take inventory of our lives and our possessions. Our attitude and generosity are always a matter of the heart. And Jesus came to heal that heart! Jesus continues to cast out demons–today he wants to liberate us from the sickness of selfishness and greed. None of us is promised tomorrow, be generous today, one’s life does not consist of possessions—and will only find rest and peace in God.

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