What is the Vision of this parish? Who are we, why do we exist, what are we called to? A couple of weeks ago, the parish staff and Pastoral Council met together to discuss those same questions. The Vision for us, the parish of Corpus Christi, which we came up with is: The Body of Christ Becoming Disciples. A true disciple puts God first in all things in one’s life and allows God to influence every aspect of one’s life according to His will. You will be able to read more about what our vision statement means in the bulletin shortly, but today our readings talk about one important aspect of becoming a disciple. That aspect of discipleship is stewardship. When you think of Stewardship- most probably think about money. But, as I hope to show in our readings today, stewardship is not all about money, money is only a part of stewardship. But stewardship is about directing the attitude of our hearts and the things of our lives towards God.
In our Gospel today, someone from the crowd complains to Jesus about his brother not sharing the inheritance. Now, I know that some of you have that same complaint about family members- them not being fair with all the inheritance and wanting more for themselves. So, I know that sadly, many of you can relate. But Jesus uses this opportunity not to answer the person’s complaint directly, but to teach a hard truth that all of us should keep in our mind and hearts: “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions”. Indeed, one’s life does not consist of possessions, or another good translation says “life does not consist in an abundance of possessions”. And that is the main point Jesus makes in the Parable of the Rich Fool, a point which all of us should reflect on. A rich man’s land produced a bountiful harvest, such a bountiful harvest that he had to build larger barns to store it all. Although he was already rich, his labor gave even more riches. And once he had so much stored for many years, then he could- “rest, eat, drink, be merry”. In other words, now this rich man had enough saved where he could retire and live off of his riches. Now, Jesus and I are not saying that no one has the right to retire and live off of what he/she has saved, to an extent, but as we will see it is the attitude we have and what we are living for is what matters.
God says to this rich man, “you fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have- to whom will they belong? Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God”. In other words, the rich man was a fool because he was accumulating this money and possessions for himself, he was living for himself and his pleasures, but he was a fool because he is going to die and will end up having nothing for himself. And so we all should look at our finances and the things around us, and reflect on who we are living for- ourselves, or God and others?
And this is the main point of our first reading- “Vanity, Vanity, all things are vanity”. When we think of the word ‘vanity’ we think of someone who is being vain- someone who is self-absorbed, focusing on image and appearances. But Ecclesiastes is intending to use the word as doing something in vain, or doing something in a futile manner that is not going to be efficacious. So, the point being made by this use of ‘vanity’ is that life is short, things of this earth are passing away, so life is too short to focus on the wrong and futile things. So, for example, the rich man in our Gospel parable was a fool because he worked so hard throughout his lifetime for the wrong things- he worked for money and possessions, for security for himself, for his own well-being and happiness. And he didn’t realize that in reality life is short and all the things of this earth that he was working for will come to nothing and it will all be meaningless; because while he was rich in the things of this life, but was not rich in what eternally endures.
Therefore, I ask us to reflect on 2 points of the attitude of stewardship that we are challenged with in our readings and the parable of the Rich Fool. First, notice that the rich fool saw his wealth as if it was all for him. His attitude is that he is going to fill up his barn so that he can be eat, drink, and be merry and spend his money on himself and whatever he wants. Never once did this rich man even consider that God blessed him so that he could bless others. It is also like another story Jesus uses- about another rich man and Lazarus- the rich man even stepped over the poor Lazarus begging even for scraps on his doorstep. And the rich man never gave to the poor and needy because he was preoccupied by living for himself not others. That my brothers and sisters, is exactly why God demands that we tithe- that we give the first 10% of our income for service of God and the good of others. Intentionally tithing the first 10% of our income helps us to establish the attitude that the things that we have in this world are given by God not just for our own well-being, but for the good His services and His people.
Secondly, the rich man’s problem was that he wasn’t satisfied with the earthly possessions he had, even though he had more than he needed. In his greed, he kept working and working for more and more things. So, I ask you to reflect, how much money is enough? How many possessions is enough? Kids, how many toys, how many electronics are enough? Chances are our wanting more would never really be enough- we’d always be wanting more no matter how much we had. It is easy to think that our lives would be better, we’d be happier, if we only had a little more. However, it is quite possible, and is often true, that we are happier with not having a lot. Studies show that children and adults are happier if they don’t have as many things but live simply. Indeed, my brothers and sisters, our hearts will always be wanting more until we truly recognize that no amount of money or earthly things will satisfy our hearts, and our desires aren’t consumed by the things of this world. Our hearts aren’t satisfied with what is finite, because we were made for the Infinite God- only He truly satisfies. So, ask yourself if you are too preoccupied with storing up treasures of this world or are you more concerned with what matters to God? Reflect on how much money, and how much time, you spend being concerned about treasures of this world and how much of what matters to God? The fools store up treasures for themselves, but the wise are striving to become rich with what matters to God.
I began my homily saying that stewardship is an aspect of discipleship. And I hope you can see from our readings that stewardship is not all about money but is first about the attitude in our hearts towards the way we see and use the money and things that we are given by God. In the next several weeks and months you will be able to read more about our vision as a parish of becoming disciples, as well as what it means and looks like to be good stewards and disciples. But for now, keep in mind that as we grow in our discipleship and put God first in our lives, then we will also become better stewards. After all, Jesus told us to “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all the rest will be added”. All that we really need, all that is good for us, will be given by our good God as we strive to put Him first.
Let me conclude this homily with a prayer from the last verse of our Psalm today, Psalm 90: “Let the favor of the Lord be upon us, and establish the work of our hands. Yes, you Lord, establish the work of our hands”. Lord, everything I have is yours. Everything I have is given from you and so I offer it back to you because you are my ultimate end and happiness, you alone will satisfy me, not these earthly things. So, I ask you Lord to establish the work that I do, and order all things that you give me for your service and your glory. Help me to seek you first, to trust in your providence for everything I need, and to become rich in only what matters to you, Lord. AMEN!BACK TO LIST