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18th Sunday C


A priest was preaching dramatically one Sunday: Do not put your trust on riches! Do not focus your heart on money! You do not need money! In heaven there is no money! Then a young man stood up and said: Father, we are already in heaven. The priest asked why, and the lad replied: Because at home, there is always no money!

The priest is right in saying that in heaven, we do not need money. In the afterlife, no dollar or peso or euro can guarantee happiness. But on earth, money is still necessary. People need money. Part of our constant prayer when we go to church is for the Lord to give us money – enough money for our daily needs, for our children, for our future. This Sunday, I’m quite certain that many of you here are asking God for some financial help. We are one in this – I constantly need money for the parish and our projects!

Money therefore is, not bad in itself, not sinful in itself. In fact, honestly and industriously earned, it is a gift from God for our selves, our families and our communities. Bo Sanchez, a great Filipino lay preacher, who lived a long time in poverty, imitating St. Francis of Assisi, now explores a theology of wealth. He has come to realize, that in order to help others, we must have some resources ourselves. Yes, you cannot give (especially to the poor) what you do not have.

But the gospel issues a very appropriate warning regarding money or wealth or any other thing we consider valuable. Jesus cautions us against greed. Twice in our readings we hear the word greed mentioned. St. Paul tells the Colossians to put to death evil desires, including greed – which is called idolatry. Jesus in the gospel of Luke warns: avoid greed in all its forms.

Why is greed wrong? Why is it idolatry? Greed is the desire to have more. It’s a selfish desire for more money, more property, more power. Greed is the feeling that what you have is not sufficient, not enough. A greedy person does not feel another person’s need. He can only feel his own. Consciously or unconsciously, the greedy person worships his treasure, not God. And this will not bring him to eternal life. Jesus says: A man may be wealthy but his wealth does not guarantee him life.

God sends us blessings, material or spiritual, so that we can use these to meet our needs. It is a sign of his love, his grace, his favor on our just labors. Let us remember though, that once we receive blessings, we become instruments of blessings to others. We must use our blessings for good purposes. We must use our blessings to share with those in need. Do you honestly see it that way?

All of us feel the temptation to be greedy. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to identify the many graces we receive each day and to use them wisely for our selves and for our neighbor’s good. Let us pray for the grace to avoid greed.