WHAT MATTERS—BEING RICH BEFORE GOD
Ephesians gives us the very fundamental message of our gratuitous salvation by the death and resurrection of Christ. Life, real life, comes through him. We have not done anything to deserve it and we can’t do anything to merit it. All we are, we are by the grace of God. It goes perhaps against the grain of our human thinking, but we are dependent beings, a gift from God living by the gifts of God. And yet, this should not be humiliating, for it is in accordance with our human nature. We are dependent, yes, but we are loved – and this is what changes everything.
When Jesus speaks out against the rich, he does not intend to condemn them but to liberate them. What he denounces is not the fact that they have material goods, but their own attachment to them and the use they make of their riches: for hoarding, for selfish enjoyment, or – as some rich countries do – stockpiling wheat in silos or using oil for economic and political pressure. The value of possessions is relative to the goods of the kingdom, to justice and love. What counts is to be rich and wise before God.
Lord our God,
we are your work of art.
When we were vowed to death through sin,
you called us to life
through the death of your Son.
God, open us to your love and life
given for free as a gift
without charge or regret
and give us thankful hearts.
May we learn from you and your Son
to place ourselves in the service
of our brothers and sisters,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
1 Reading: Ephesians 2:1-10
Brothers and sisters: You were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you once lived following the age of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the desires of our flesh, following the wishes of the flesh and the impulses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved), raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.
Responsorial Psalm PS 100:1B-2, 3, 4AB, 4C-5
R. (3b) The Lord made us, we belong to him.
Sing joyfully to the LORD all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song. R.
Know that the LORD is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends. R.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
his courts with praise. R.
Give thanks to him; bless his name, for he is good:
the LORD, whose kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations. R.
Alleluia Matthew 5:3
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are the poor in spirit;
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Luke 12:13-21
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, 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 the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”
Our psalm today speaks of God’s steadfast love, which endures forever. If these were the sentiments of an Old Testament believer, how much more do these words resound in the Christian heart? Paul speaks of his pre-Christian life and that of his fellow Christians. This was a life lived in the darkness of sin, subject to ethereal powers. Dominated by desires of the flesh, we were, says Paul, “children of wrath,” destined for destruction. But God in his great mercy has raised us up with Christ as Exhibit A of his boundless grace in Christ Jesus. By that grace we have been saved through faith.
When we read this in conjunction with today’s Gospel, in our hearts we know that there are better things in life than barns filled with grain. The trouble is that we don’t always act that way. If we had an estate in the in Dubai or a private jet that took us on a tour each year, they would be overshadowed by that great gift of new life in Christ Jesus.
Our hearts are lifted up by philanthropists who use their fortunes on behalf of the less fortunate. With their millions they are fighting our most devastating diseases and giving hope to the desperately poor. They are not waiting for some future date to make their bequests but acting now. This is a lesson from today’s scripture. Yes, wealth must be from genuine earning and is to be shared.
– For grateful hearts, that we can thank God for changing us from strangers to him into his sons and daughters in Christ, we pray:
– For loving hearts, that God has brought us peace with himself, with one another, and even with ourselves, we pray:
– For wide-open hearts, with which we can love the many brothers and sisters God’s grace has given us in the Church, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
you let us use these offerings
as gifts from your hands
to eat and drink the life of your Son.
Confirm us in your grace
without any claim to our own merits
and let the Spirit of Jesus help us
to live the good life of your Son
which you had meant us to live
from the beginning and for ever. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
what else can we do
than give you thanks and praise
for speaking to us through Jesus
and strengthening us
with his bread of life?
May what we say and do
and all of our lives
be a gift to those around
and an act of gratitude to you,
our God for ever and ever. Amen!
All is grace, all is a gift freely given. Even the use of our talents and our work is God’s gift. Let us also give freely to our neighbour, like our love to the people close to us, but also our help to people who suffer, even if far away from us. And may almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!