Sample of The Scriptures today
From Ecclesiastes 1: “Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!…For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which he has labored under the sun (that he must leave it all in the end)?” From Colossians 3: “When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory. Put to death, (now) then, the parts of you that are earthly: (your) immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator.” The Gospel of Luke 12: 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.”
For the second July weekend we cover the topic of sins again that cry out to God and of ones that need our repentance. We hear of a listing of six in Colossians, and one of them is named as greed. Greed also is figuring in the opening reading and the gospel today. So let’s look at it. Yours and my greatest temptation to greed just passed us by when we were not the winner of the mega-millions lottery! Are you relieved that you won’t have to figure suddenly what to do with the 1.337 billion dollars that will be in the care of some Chicago area solo winner? Phew! That was close, with the numbers 13, 36, 45, 57, 67 and a mega ball of 14.
Two people from the 4 p.m. Mass said that know of that Speedway convenience store in Des Plaines where it sold. They have people living up that way. Hey, perhaps it’s a relative!?! You could appeal to the Lord like the gospel story bloke did and demand that this ‘distant relative’ give you a share of the inheritance or prize winnings! Jesus would then likely give you that parable of storehouses and worldly treasures to soon pass from your hands and not be able to buy you anything in the afterlife. Or, even his admonition to “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
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2/ There you have it. Do not be possessed by possessions.
Now what if you have a good portion of possessions? Then, you are called to be good at sharing it. This will be my theme for the Family and children’s Mass of this weekend. My brother and I learned quickly in our growing up that to share our things would give us twice the happiness, or more, than of keeping them from each other. At 8 years old he had a great Gotham City Batman set that was fun to play together, while I had a great Johnny Lightning car racing game that was mutually enjoyed. Like the earlier lesson in Luke of getting to heaven by sharing with graciously sharing with one’s neighbor—the rich man drew limitations of “who” his neighbor would be—which Jesus pointed out put serious limitations on getting to eternal life in heaven.
Now we can look at that Colossians 3 list of six sins but visit just the one of our concentration: “Beware (of) the greed that is idolatry.” A type of translation: ‘Do not love yourself and your things too much, saying I am my things. My things and possessions are me. Me, myself and I, and my possessions, is my American ideal, er, idol.
Summation: Should we center on ourselves, the creature—but not God really, the Creator? Are we not to live for the big picture of living in and of and for The One Who does own all things and calls me to become his adopted son or daughter in a devoted life of faith?
There is “the greed that is idolatry”says St. Paul to the Colossians two millennia ago, and it remains good, holy advice.
Greed is a universal topic, but it affects more of the “have’s” than the “have not’s” in the world. The Bible warns “woe to you who are rich now, for it may all you ever have, and yet to be lost forever.” Luke 6:22.
The writers John Steinbeck and James Cameron wrote on this topic of greed.
3/ Steinbeck once wrote something called “The Pearl.” It’s the story of a happy, but poor, pearl diver who dreams of finding the perfect pearl. One day he finds it, but rather than bringing him the happiness he had hoped for, it brings him one problem after another, because everyone is after his pearl. He almost gets killed. His son is killed. He and his wife are at odds. His formerly tranquil life is totally upset because of his attempts to cling to this pearl. Finally, he stands at the shore and hurls the cursed pearl as far into the sea as he can. That’s what we must do with our greed! Radically separate yourself from it! Put it to death! “For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come!”
There’s your quote from the Bible there about God’s wrath over sins!
Steinbeck’s word might have been inspiration behind James Cameron’s book and screenplay about the lead female character played in the movie “Titantic.” In his story based on that real event, the script writer wove in a story of a woman named Rose with a very rich man Hockley on this maiden voyage into the Atlantic on the ocean superliner. Rose’s relationship to this rich man aboard is all about the opulence, riches and privilege that comes in being paired with him, but she feels not the love from the rich man. He gives her a lavish and very expensive necklace called “the heart of the sea.” With that, he wishes to seal the deal on their future marriage. Yet the woman, Rose, suddenly feels love for the first time with a lad Jack Dawson who is from steerage. She is torn on what to do and who and what to choose. Then comes along the iceberg and the ship’s sinking!
In the end of the story, we see that Rose chose the poor lad Jack who was in love with her, and perishes at her Rose’s lifeboat’s side, in the aftermath of the sea disaster. At the story’s end, she is later in life, on another ocean voyage, where and when she tosses the quite valuable jewelry overboard. The “heart of the sea” is tossed to the heart of the sea. Greed would not have won her affections. The audience cheers, because, in the end, greed is not our pal.
My only change to the story’s finish is that she would have donated the necklace to an orphanage for their ministry.