21 October, 2013. Monday of the Twenty Ninth Week
Rom 4:20ff. Like Abraham’s faith, our faith will be credited to us by God.
Lk 12:13ff. Our Lord warns against greed in all its forms.
First Reading: Romans 4:20-25
No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
Gospel: Luke 12:13-21
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then 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. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you – you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that ou need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
And what I have failed to do
(The omissions of the good)
While the Bible teaches about the justifying power of faith, this does not undermine the value of good works, as though nothing else was required but to believe and to pray. Above all we have the powerful example of Jesus himself, who went about doing good, preaching, healing, listening, defending, encouraging, supporting the poor. If faith could stand on its own without commitment to good works, then what of the great prophets like Isaiah, who preached a strong message of faith flourishing through works of justice?
Paul’s favourite Old Testament spiritual guide was Isaiah, who wrote the stirring, almost untranslatable couplet: Unless your faith is firm, You shall not be affirmed (Isa 7:9). This same Isaiah laid equal stress upon good works. Condemning Israel’s liturgy as sterile and useless, he called for conversion: Make justice your aim: redress the wrongs, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow (Isa 1:16,23).
The gospel reminds us of the faults of omission of which otherwise seemingly good, rich people are often guilty. They can be so tenacious about keeping for themselves preserving what they have amassed as private property. They set their total security in wealth and respectability. To this streak in most of us, Jesus gives this warning: Avoid greed in all its forms….Possessions do not guarantee life… Do not grow selfishly rich, instead of growing rich in the sight of the Lord.