Jesus is the cry that seek to alert us of the risks that we run. For we live in a world that fosters individualism and hoarding.
Not a few of Jesus’ teachings, the paradoxes in particular, raise eyebrows and puzzle. Through them, he holds those who hear him captive. And he makes them think. For he wants to alert them of the dangers that many do not know lurk.
And one of these teachings has to do with his stance on riches. It makes those who are fond of money to snicker. For Jesus does not think as many do (“paradox” means “against the common belief”). He is not with those who take wealth as a blessing or prize for those who are good. For him, in fact, wealth poses dangers that folks should be alert to.
The greatest danger is that wealth can lead the wealthy to think they do it all on their own. That they owe it all to no one. This, indeed, is the danger that Jesus wants to alert us to by way of the parable of the rich fool. To think that we are self-made is to not know ourselves. And is not to know ourselves the beginning of being wise and human?
No, it is not wise nor human to lose sight of the one in whom we live, move and have our being. It is not wise nor human to deny that no one is an island. And, of course, what do we have that we did not receive?
More dangers that all should be alert to
The Maker who has the power of life and death over us wants to give us the kingdom. But do we not, in effect, turn it down when we do not admit that we depend on him most of all? It is right, then, that he is happy to give his kingdom to the little ones. And he makes them his little flock.
The least, in turn, stay poor and open to God and to others. What makes them tick, what they treasure, is the kingdom; to have it is to have other things besides. For its sake, they gird their loins. That is to say, no baggy clothes, no broad phylacteries or long fringes hinder them from carrying out promptly their task. And their lamps are lit; they watch, are awake and know what goes on. Besides, they behave as the kingdom asks them; their yield matches what they are given in trust.
For indeed, we are at risk of getting lost on the way to Jerusalem if we do not live as the kingdom asks us to do. If we are dazed in the moral, spiritual or legal sense. If we stay shut, safe and sound, like snails in their shells (SV.EN XII:81). Of course, we are at risk, too, if we worry about our basic needs. About our gains, careers and places of power also. We better be careful, too: by being nosy about others’ work for the kingdom, we may end up not doing our share of the work.
Lord Jesus, do not stop to alert us of the dangers that lurk in this world. And make our faith strong. Let it lead us to know the true oaths given us and not doubt that what we hope for will come true. Grant that we see in your Supper the pledge of the glory to come.
7 August 2022
20th Sunday in O.T. (C)
Wis 18, 6-9; Heb 11, 1-2. 8-19; Lk 12, 32-48