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Homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019

A man walked into a bar and saw an old friend nursing a drink and looking despondent!  “You look terrible,” he said.

“Well, I am,” replied the friend.  “My mother died in April – and left me $50,000.  Then in May, my father died. And he left me $100,000.

“Gee that’s tough, losing both parents in just two months.”

“AND, to top it off, my favorite aunt died last month, and left me $1,000,000!”

“How sad!”

“Tell me about it,” the friend continued.  So far this month, NOTHING!”

     Where your treasure is, there your heart will be.”  And a lot of folks put their hearts in really stupid places!

     Like that poor fellow in today’s Gospel story who was successful and rich, but who Jesus called a FOOL! — That’s because this rich farmer’s favorite words were “mine” and “more”! — He put his faith and all his hopes into piling up more and more for himself. — It never occurred to him that it was all just on loan and would slip away before he knew it! — This rich man never saw that the best part of having something – is being able to share it and enjoy it with others. —     When, at last, the rich man came face to face with God, his hands were EMPTY!  All the STUFF he’d invested his life in “hoarding” had been left behind, as it always is.  And he was LEFT with NOTHING! — Empty-handed and naked he stood before God. And his emptiness was his judge.  God didn’t have to speak a word! —- TOO LATE, this sad little man discovered that the real meaning of HELL is: sitting all alone and looking back on a wasted life that has left you with empty hands and an empty heart – for all eternity!

     The question which today’s Gospel poses for each of us to answer is: “Will WE, one day, have to face God with EMPTY HANDS?” —  (And THAT may be one of the MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS we will EVER have to ask ourselves.)

     Imagine that you’ve just discovered that you’ve only got a few more hours to live.  It’s too late to do anything except say “good-bye.” You needn’t bother packing, because the ONLY BAGGAGE you can TAKE is whatever you’ve “become” on the “inside”!  

     Will our MEMORIES of the time we’ve spent here on earth make us say, “Gee, I’m glad I lived! — I can’t wait to show God all the good things I’ve done with the life he gave me?” 

      Today’s Gospel makes it quite clear that we can FORGET ABOUT all the memories of our BARNS FULL OF “STUFF” – (our MEMORIES of having built the “biggest” THIS, or having bought the “best” THAT, or having become the “most powerful” WHATEVER!} — Because ONLY ONE KIND OF MEMORIES will bring us comfort in the end: MEMORIES of having made life a little better and fuller, a little more fair, a little easier and more beautiful for some of God’s people!

     Are THOSE the kinds of MEMORIES that FILL OUR HEARTS as we look within? — IF, after carefully examining our hearts today, we find that we’ve mistaken a stuffed barn for A LIFE WE CAN BE PROUD OF! —THE GOOD NEWS IS that there’s STILL TIME to create some “new memories” of a life LIVED FOR OTHERS! — There’s still time to write a NEW STORY which we can, one day, tell WITH PRIDE, to the DELIGHT of our Father-God!

     There is a cautionary tale told about a church that was celebrating “Stewardship Sunday.”  And the richest man in town VOLUNTEERED to share his thoughts, with the parish, about giving back to the Lord.  When the day arrived, he strode to the lectern and announced, “I am a millionaire, and I credit all my wealth to the rich blessing of God!  It all started with a moment of FAITH. I had just earned my first dollar, and I went to church with that dollar carefully folded in half and tucked safely in my pocket!  On that particular Sunday, a visiting missionary was preaching, and he told us all about the work he was doing for the church in India.

     “I only had that one dollar.  I either had to give it all to God’s work or give nothing at all.  So at that moment I decided to give my whole dollar to God! — I believe that GOD BLESSED MY CHOICE TO GIVE HIM ALL I HAD, and THAT’S WHY I’m a wealthy man today.”

     There was an awed silence in the church as the millionaire swaggered back to his seat.  Once he had settled in, an elderly parishioner leaned over and whispered loudly, “I DARE YOU TO DO IT AGAIN!” 

     As I’m sure you know by now, after thirteen years together, I enjoy nice things as much as anyone; but we all NEED TO TAKE HEED OF OUR LORD’S WARNING today! — There are many things that money can do for us.  It can give us a comfortable home to live in, a reliable car to drive, access to education, health care, and all the physical necessities of life. —– BUT, WHEN the DESIRE to HAVE MORE becomes the DRIVING FORCE IN OUR LIVES, when it DOMINATES our thoughts, and causes us to neglect our RESPONSIBILITIES to our family and to God; — THEN, money has become an “idol,” a “false god”! 

     REMEMBER THAT JESUS IS ON OUR SIDE!  He wants with all his heart to help us to avoid the “pitfalls” of this life.  And THAT’S WHY he tells us today, “take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life DOES NOT consist of POSSESSIONS.” — Simply put, WE WERE CREATED BY GOD TO SHARE, NOT HOARD! — AND, THE OBSESSIVE LOVE OF MONEY and POSSESSIONS – HAS THE POWER TO DESTROY OUR SOULS!