18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Father of everlasting goodness, our origin and guide, be close to us and hear the prayers of all who praise you. Forgive our sins and restore us to life. Keep us safe in your love. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Questions to Consider
- What is the measure of a person’s worth in our society?
- When can you have too much of something?
- How do things we consider valuable get in the way of things that are really valuable?
Context of the Gospel
The First Reading from Ecclesiastes sets the stage for the parable the Lord tells in the Gospel:
2:21 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.
In the Second Reading, Paul writes to the Colossians about setting their minds on what is above, not what is on earth:
3:1 If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. … 5 Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.
12:13 Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”
14 He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” 15 Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, [Ex 20:17] for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” [1 Tim 6:6-10] 16 Then he told them a parable.
“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. 17 He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ 18 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 19 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!”’ [Sir 11:19] 20 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?’ [Jer 17:11; Job 27:8; Ps 39:6] 21 Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.” [Lk 12:33-34]
12:13 One of the multitude said to him, “Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me.”
14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying,
“The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
- Why might the man be asking Jesus to settle a dispute about an inheritance? Why does Jesus refuse to do so?
- What commandment does Jesus make a reference to?
- How does verse 15 contrast with what we see in society?
- What does the rich man propose to do to solve the problem in verse 17? What does his answer imply?
- To whom did the rich man’s grain and goods really belong?
- What should the rich man have done?
- What does it mean to be a “steward”?
Church Teaching and Commentary
- St. Cyril: Observe also in another respect the folly of his words, when he says, “I will gather all my fruits”, as if he thought that he had not obtained them from God, but that they were the fruits of his own labors.
- St. Basil: But if you confess that those things have come to you from God, is God then unjust in distributing to us unequally. Why do you abound while another begs, unless that you should gain the rewards of a good stewardship. Are not you then a robber, for counting as your own what you have received to distribute? It is the bread of the famished which you receive, the garment of the naked which you hoard in your chest, the shoe of the barefooted which rots in your possession, the money of the penniless which you have buried in the earth. Wherefore then do you injure so many to whom you might be a benefactor?
- Venerable Bede: He then who wishes to be rich toward God, will not lay up treasures for himself, but distribute his possessions to the poor.
We offer to God our prayers of thanksgiving and praise, and we set before Him our needs. Let us also remember the intentions of Pope Benedict XVI for this month:
- That all those who are going through moments of inner difficulty and trial may find in Christ the light and support which leads them to discover authentic happiness.
- That the Church in
may bear witness to ever greater inner cohesion and may manifest her effective and visible communion with Peter's Successor. China
Lord Jesus Christ, meek and humble of heart, You offer to those who follow You a yoke that is good to bear, a burden that is light. Accept, we beg You, our prayer and work of this day, and grant us the rest we need that we may be ever more willing to serve You, Who live and reign forever and ever.