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XVIII Sunday in Ordinary Time

A material goods reminder

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Dear brothers and sisters, Fiat!

According to the statistics we are coming out of the long economic crisis even if with difficulty because the crisis is still gripping us, with serious corollaries such as unemployment especially of young people and the increased number of all those living in poverty. We trust that the situation can improve rapidly, and considering that we all have something, it is useful to reflect on today's readings, concerning the value we must attribute to material goods.

"Some people work wisely with knowledge and skill, then must leave the fruit of their efforts to someone who hasn’t worked for it. This, too, is meaningless, a great tragedy, "says the sage (Ecclesiastes 2,21). The Gospel gives us an example(Lk 12,13-21): "One of the crowd said to Jesus: Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me". The years, the millennia pass; the world changes; but some things never change. Even today, so many times it happens that the brothers quarrel over their inheritance! A parent struggles all his life to accumulate goods to leave to his children, and in reality he leaves them the seed of discord, claims, grudges that drag on for years and sometimes they do not subside anymore. In the case they submit to Him, Jesus refuses to intervene: not out of concern for the people who are involved but to invite them and all those who listen to Him to broaden their horizons. This is why Jesus transforms the episode into an occasion to talk about riches: “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

It is certainly right to desire the goods needed for a safe and dignified life, for a peaceful future for oneself and one's loved ones. The Bible does not blame that. But it is different to consider material goods as the supreme good, to which to subordinate everything; It is not right to set as the purpose of life the accumulation of as much as possible, perhaps without regard to the means, whether they are lawful or not. Often justice, truth, mercy, sometimes even family affections are trampled on to achieve this goal. The craving for wealth is a beast that devours everything, including the one who lets himself be dominated by it.

Faced with this ‘inebriation’, which sometimes becomes an obsession, Jesus tells the short parable of the rich man who is kissed by new fortune, and who elaborates projects like a joyful man.

“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.  He asked himself, 'What shall Ido, for I do not have space to store my harvest?' 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 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!"' 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?' Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.

Through this example, Jesus first of all invites us to use our brains: natural considerations should come before the considerations that are dictated by faith. This should be obvious to a man of intelligence. We should use our brains: it is not worth trying so hard, when we are not even sure of arriving until evening. No one is exempt from the risk of a heart attack or a traffic accident. Therefore, he who lets himself be carried away by the vortex of material goods is a fool, that is, he is poor in intelligence.

After having clarified the human aspect, Jesus calls for a look of faith: the primary purpose in our life should consist in caring for what transcends our life, that is, what goes beyond. Life, although it lasts a day or a hundred years, in any case is limited. And then? The real riches are not those that we leave here, but those that we can carry with us: it is the good that we have accomplished; it is  our faith in Jesus, our only salvation; it is the hope we have cultivated day by day to live with Him forever.

Jesus through Luisa teaches us that true virtue begins with God and ends in God. The sign to know whether one has true charity is that he loves the poor. In fact, if he loves the rich and is available for them, he may do so because he hopes for something or obtains something, or because he is in sympathy with them, or because of their nobility, intelligence, eloquence, and even out of fear. But if he loves the poor, helps them, supports them, it is because he sees in them the image of God, therefore he does not look at roughness, ignorance, rudeness, misery. Through those miseries, as though through a glass, he sees God, from whom he hopes for everything; and so he loves them, helps them, consoles them as if he were doing it to God Himself. This is the good kind of true virtue, which begins from God and ends in God. On the other hand, that which begins from matter, produces matter and ends in matter. As bright and virtuous as charity may appear, if the divine touch is not felt, both the one who does it and the one who receives it become bothered, annoyed and tired, and if necessary, they even use it to commit defects.

don Marco
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