“Take care to guard against all greed” (Luke 12:15)

The story invites us to ask, ‘What does true wealth consist in?’ ‘How can we become rich in the sight of God?’ The parable is reminding us that everything is a gift. Even the fruits of our labours, what we have accomplished, what we have amassed, is a gift from God. Our very life itself, our ‘soul’ in the language of the parable, is a gift from God that is given to us on loan. The man in the parable lost sight of that truth; he talked as if possessed even his own soul. It actually belonged to God and God called it back at a time that the man did not expect. If everything is gift, then there is a sense in which we have to hold it lightly. We hold it, while looking towards the God who gave us what we have, and while looking towards others who can benefit from what we have received.

Every gift implies some responsibility; every grace makes some call on us. I have often heard people say to me, ‘I have been very blessed in life, and I want to give something back’. In all sorts of ways, people give back to the community from what they have received. It doesn’t always mean giving back in a financial sense. Many people give their expertise, their experience, their skill sets to others on a voluntary basis. They work out of that gospel call of Jesus, ‘you received without charge, give without charge’.

So much of what is good in our communities, in our parishes, is the fruit of such unpaid service, that generous giving to God and to the community, out of an appreciation for all that has been received. In today’s second reading, Paul associates greed with what he calls the ‘old self’ and he calls on us to keep putting on the ‘new self’ which he identifies as a self that is in the image of its creator. Jesus was the perfect image of God the Creator. Paul is talking about putting on the ‘Christ self’. In another letter, he says of Christ that ‘he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich’. This is the new self that we are called to keep putting on every day, the self which is ready to give of ourselves, to empty ourselves, like Christ, so that the lives of others might be enriched.

Fr. Charles Chidiebere Mmaduekwe