Mission Society of the Philippines


18th Sunday C: Share your blessings

“If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” “Thus, will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.” These two verses from the readings these Sunday speak volumes to us. It shows the opposites, living under God’s influence, and that of the world. What is of God, and what is vanity.

When I was much younger, I used to collect things. There was this fascination with flying that made me collect model airplanes. It started small and cheap, until it began to grow and became an expensive hobby. At one point I reached more than two dozen model airplanes, from small diecast models, to huge collector’s item airliners. But one day, a very honest friend told me something that I can never forget. She said to me, “Kuya, kapag ibenenta natin ang mga laruan mo na yan, sigurado marami tayong mabibiling pandesal na pwede natin maibigay sa mga nagugutom na bata sa Pilipinas (Brother, if we sell all your toys, surely we can buy lots of pandesal (bread) that we can give to the hungry children in the Philippines.” Her words made me realize something precious. I realized my priorities were misaligned. I stopped collecting.

In today’s reading we are reminded of what matters most. It is to recognize that we are to be good stewards of the wealth entrusted to us.  The readings speak of ‘vanity of vanities’, and of greed that is idolatry, and to be risen with Christ, seeking what is above; what the Gospel named as ‘storing’ what matters to God. God has entrusted humankind with many resources, wealth, even time, talents and gifts. And this abundance is meant to be shared. It is not meant to be hoarded. By hoarding, one is just waiting to lose things. “‘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 all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.” The Gospel is clear that things are only passing, and it is important that people do not anchor their lives to what is fleeting.

One can notice that in the Parable of the Rich Fool, the statements of the rich were almost referring to ‘his’ properties. It sounds very selfish: This is what ‘I’ shall do, ‘my’ barns, ‘my’ grain and other goods, rest, eat, drink and be merry. We miss the communitarian aspect in saying, like the family barn, the community’s grain and goods, or the resting and feasting with family and friends… It was a direct reference to what pleases him. It was a claim to what was his. And we know this poor decision-making, did not serve him good. All were to be taken away.

Sometimes people can be very rich, but at times people will also fail to see the responsibility that comes with being entrusted with so much. And in their failure, they do not only fail themselves but the community as well. Fr. Dennis Ham, SJ puts it very clearly, “Thus the man stands revealed as having allowed greed to destroy all his covenant relationships – with the earth, with his community, with himself, and with God. Is it possible that this neglected parable has something to say to us?”

The message of the Parable and the readings bring us to new heights, to embrace what is from above, and to follow Christ’s example of self-giving. To imitate him means changing one’s greedy lifestyle, and instead to look at the welfare of others. This serves as a warning too when one lives a greedy lifestyle. One does not know the hour. When life is demanded of us, can we say that we have shared, served well and looked after the good of others?

I know a retired lady. She doesn’t have to work. She is financially secure already. She could have just enjoyed her retirement, ‘rest, eat, drink, and be merry.’ But she did not do that. She has her occasional times to unwind, and relax, but most of the days she is to be found working hard. “This has become a hobby of mine, father. This keeps me sharp…” “But I could not afford to rest, I work because I love what I do, but because I still have to help those in need especially, my grandchildren.” I thought to myself, she could stop in what she was doing, and enjoy the fruits of her labor. She’s been doing that now, but still service and sharing remains her top priority. She still devotes her time, effort, energy, and remaining years to be of service. She shares herself and is an example of true self-giving. She is joyful, wise and at peace, busy with God’s matters.

If there is one thing, we can learn from this Sunday’s readings, it is that, entrusted wealth, time, talents, are meant to bless others. These are meant to be shared for we have a calling to look after one another. “Walang sinuman an nabubuhay para sa sarili lamang, walang sinuman ang namamatay para sa sarili lamang. Tayong lahat ay may pananagutan sa isa’t isa.  Tayong lahat ay tinipon ng Diyos na kapiling nya.” Amen.

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