Parish
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Sermon on the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The parable of the rich fool poses huge challenges to people living in an extremely materialistic society whereby the value of a person is measured and defined by the price tag of the outfit, the size of his/her bank account and stock portfolios and not how he/she shows compassion to a suspicious looking stranger and the frequency of saying no to evil. It’s a culture highly motivated by profit and driven  by expansion and growth which is not bad at all. In fact, in order to recover easily from the economic crisis, we are encouraged to spend more, shop more, use more, swipe more our credit cards to the max until we’re broke. Money matters and money talks. Correct me if the opposite is true. But the overwhelming message of the media is that life does indeed consist in the amassing of riches and the accumulation of wealth. It’s obviously seen in the entertainment world. When I was listening to 94.9 MixFM on the way to the office, a song strikingly caught my attention. It runs this way, I wanna be a Billionaire so bad, buy all the things I never had. I wanna be in the front cover of Forbes Magazine, smiling next to Oprah and the Queen. The lyrics exactly mirrors the fast track to living American Dream. Nothing else matters but the things I have.

On the contrary, the Gospel draws and raises questions from us who barely make it at the height of the recession. Thus, it may be fair to ask, what’s wrong with expanding my farming business. What’s wrong with a frugal minded person hoarding and hiding dollar bills under folded shirts in the closet, stashing away excess food and supplies in pantries and leaving credit cards behind when going to the mall. What’s wrong with saving for the rainy days. What’s wrong with investing in stocks and squirreling away funds for retirement. Should it be a wise idea to do that in times of great uncertainty? And if ever we spend our hard-earned money in a high-end dining on our payday, don’t  we deserve that?

The text seems vague because it does not present in greater detail how much is enough or offer a blueprint for an alternative economic system. There is no rule that tells us wether we step over the line or not. But it warns against all greed- the excessive desire for material possession, the disease that has brought this country into a depressing economic collapse.

Possibly, what does the parable mean to people who have limited resources, rely on food stamps and social welfare and completely have no access even to the basic necessities of life and yet, try as best as they can to live faithfully to their calling as Christians? In this context, it sounds differently. I’d like to prod your imagination instead by starting to acknowledge the presence of God in the minutest details of your life and return any blessing by sharing whatever you don’t need to the needy. There is no U-haul behind hearse. The act of giving is the central thread that animates the redeemed life. Amen. 

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A Filipino Catholic Priest, born and raised in Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines, ordained for the Diocese of Tucson, AZ, eleven years in ministry and counting, Pastor of St. Christopher Catholic Parish, Marana, AZ.

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