370 East Main Street
PO Box 7
Wytheville, VA 24382
Phone: (276) 228-3104
Fax: (276) 228-3322

Welcome to the Pastor's Desk

August 3rd, 2019

A man is walking down the beach and comes across an old bottle. He picks it up, pulls out the cork and out pops a genie!

The genie says, “Thank you for freeing me from the bottle. In return I will grant you three wishes.”

The man says, “Great! I always dreamed of this and I know exactly what I want. First, I want one billion dollars in a Swiss bank account.”

Poof! There is a flash of light and a piece of paper with account numbers appears in his hand!

He continues, “Next, I want a brand-new red Ferrari right here.”

Poof! There is a flash of light and a bright red, brand-new Ferrari appears right next to him!

He continues, “Finally, I want to be irresistible to women.”

Poof! There is a flash of light and he turns into a box of chocolates. (Is it true that chocolate is irresistible to women?)

In today’s Gospel according to Luke, begins by taking up the theme introduced by Ecclesiastes in the first reading: unnecessary abundance of material goods is no final guarantee of possession of the real riches . The parable of the rich fool illustrates how passing the possession of material riches can be. Our goal should be to make ourselves rich with the things which God considers to be riches. Allow me to share this first and reflect on this sayings:

Money can buy bed but not sleep

Money can buy books but not brain

Money can buy food but not appetite

Money can buy a house but not a home

Money can buy medicine but not health

Money can buy companions but not real friends

Money can buy marriage but not love

Money can buy anything but not heaven.

In the gospel Jesus relates that the rich man with an abundant harvest forced to tear down his existing barns and build even larger ones. With all his possessions secured, he congratulates himself on a job well done. He has prove himself to be prudent organizer, a good planner, a man respected in the community. And yet Christ calls him a fool! Why?

There is no indication that he was dishonest or that he cheated anyone or deprived them of what was rightfully theirs. What then was wrong with him?

He was greedy. That’s why Jesus said before telling the parable, “Avoid greed in all its forms. A man may be wealthy, but his possessions do not guarantee him life.”

He wants security in the future, but he does not look far enough into the future beyond death to a security that only God can guarantee.

The gospel shows even more the absolute foolishness of making material things a top priority. Jesus points out the folly of counting on wealth for security saying: “for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” In the end everything that we own ends up owning us, everything that we try to control ends up controlling us. If we think that material things will make us happy, we will soon discover that half our time will be taken up trying to acquire things and the other half trying to protect them. As if, to obtain more material things is useless. All of those things will remain here on earth after we die. And after we die we will be judged by how rich we are “in what matters to God.”

Being rich in the matters of God means that we are looking for ways to share his gifts with others. The person rich in the matters of God is not focussed on satisfying every want and comfort, before considering the needs of others. The person rich in the matters of God strives to give the Lord first fruits, not the meager leftovers.

Rich in the matters of God requires sharing generously our resources to assist with God’s work in the world, the Church. It means seeking opportunities to help those who are most in need. Rich in the matters of God, finding special joy in giving to the Lord and his people. And therefore there is a feeling of much joy in giving than receiving.

Let us pray today for the grace and the wisdom to grow rich in the matters of God.

For some of us, this means acknowledging that whatever successes we enjoy and whatever things we possess, they are all God’s gifts to us. It requires of us to open our hearts to be filled with a profound gratitude for God’s goodness.

For some, the Lord is asking us to begin to return to Him the first fruits of our labors for the building up of His kingdom and to help those in need. It means realizing that the leftovers are not adequate to express our gratitude to the Lord for all that He has done for us.

For others, it means surrendering the worries and anxieties that burden our hearts to Him. It means entrusting our lives to His providential love.

For some, the Lord is asking us to open our eyes to recognize the opportunities He is giving us to share the gift of faith with others. It means taking the chances to share what is most precious with others, giving them the opportunity to grow rich in the matters of God.

As challenged, let us learn from the experience of the foolish rich man in the parable. We are called to look at our own lives, our own “riches” and to evaluate our true needs and wants.

Whatever possessions we have, are only lent to us by God, and that we are accountable for their use. We must be generous in sharing our time, our treasure, and our talents, the three elements of christian stewardship. Every one of us is rich in one thing or another. Even if we are poor financially, we may be blessed with intelligence, good will, a sense of humor or the ability to encourage, inspire and support others. God expects us to give our thanks to Him for all these blessings by sharing them with others for His glory.

Likewise, let us control our greed. Our greed may be the desire for the approval and praise of others. Greed also turns our life away from God, away from serving and loving other people. As greed directs all our energy and attention to fulfilling the self, its objects become our false gods, and they will consume us unless we become rich in the sight of God.