How to Be Rich with God

Besides chaplain for the Villa and Sisters, I am also the major fund-raiser for the abbey.  When I started my job eight years ago, one of the sisters sent me a wonderful text for an ad.  It goes like this:

Verily I say unto you………. money

It can buy a house, but not a home.

It can buy a clock, but not time.

It can buy you a position, but not respect.

It can buy you a bed, but not sleep.

It can buy you a book, but not knowledge.

It can buy you medicine, but not health.

It can buy you blood, but not life.

So you see money isn’t everything!

It often causes pain and suffering!

I tell you this because I am your friend, and as your friend I want to take away your pain and suffering!!

So send me all your money

And I will suffer for you!

Cash only please!
After all, what are friends for, uh??

            Now, I do not want to disappoint you.  This homily is not about money.  I want talk about how to be rich with God.  And, it begins with vanity.

Vanity is the state of being useless or having no importance at all.  It comes from the Latin meaning, “empty.”  The writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes states that everything is vanity, and, we are vane.  The writer is quite pessimistic about human life.  Yet there is a kernel of truth here.  We labor and struggle in life and in the end we cannot take all we earn with us.  It ends up in a will for our families and/or for our charities.

Even Jesus asks a very important question:  about our riches- “If God takes our lives tonight, to whom will they belong?”  Our sacred lives do not consist of possessions.  God wants us to be rich in holiness.  And some people have started to be rich with God.

Two months ago, a young man named Stuart Edge takes out one thousand dollars out of his personal funds.  You can find him on YouTube.  He hits the streets to find people who need a pick-me-up.  His venture is unorthodox bordering on the absurd.  He calls it “Money Magic Trick for Homeless.”  Based on a trick with a one-dollar bill and a one hundred dollar bill, everyone thinks that Stuart is giving away a one-dollar bill.  But when they open their hands, they are shocked at his generosity.  Among the recipients of his generosity is a veteran who begs on a street corner, an older homeless man who holds up a sign and asks for food money, a young widow who also holds up a sign to tell the world that she cannot make ends meet, and a street musician who asks, “Will it become a one dollar bill later?”  Stuart’s motive is to make the world a better place.  When he leaves these people he always says, “God bless you…when you get back on your feet please give back to society.”  They hug him.

Jesus says, “Beware of that sin of avarice that spawns fraud and extortion.”  Six months ago, some news magazines published articles lauding the retail stores, Trader Joe’s and Costco Wholesale, as the best places for providing people with a living wage and excellent employee environments.   Many retailers see employees as “a cost to be minimized.”[1]  But these two stores and more see employees as “assets!”  Therefore, the result is high productivity, better customer service and better sales.  On the other hand, there are companies like Wal-Mart and Papa John’s that do not provide living wages and do not take care of their employees’ health benefits.  Why do they prosper?  Because we shop there a lot and we make the CEOs very, very comfortable.  Remember what I said in the beginning of this homily:

I tell you this because I am your friend, and as your friend I want to take away your pain and suffering!!

So send me all your money

And I will suffer for you!

Cash only please!
After all, what are friends for, uh??

            In the words of St. Paul, we are people of the Resurrection, brothers and sisters.  “Seek what is above…seek out Christ…put to death “avarice that spawns fraud and extortion.”  Since “Christ is all in all,” should we not ask ourselves a very important question?  That question is:  if we continue to shop at places that do not provide living wages to Christ, do we not then participate in avarice that spawns fraud and extortion since the money goes into the pockets of the companies’ owners?

At every Eucharist, Jesus enriches us with holy food so that we can be rich in God.  Jesus gives generously to us every day.  As Christians, we can do the same for one another.

 

 

The Rev. Fr. Dr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B.

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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