By Rev. Fr. Tristan Jasper D. Laforteza
EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME. Once I came across a story of Tom and Sam who were identical twins. Their parents could hardly distinguish their distinct physical differences when they were growing up. One day, their father called their attention as regards to the transferring of inheritance. The father wanted to make an equal division of properties and wealth. However, Tom, greedy and selfish as he was, disagreed to an equal partition and demanded that whoever is proven to be smarter and stronger will get a larger share of fortune. Sam agreed to the idea. So, the father thought of conducting a competition. The father asked Tom and Sam to walk as far as they can, but they need to be back home before sunset. The wealth will be distributed according to the distance that each one would walk by. Part of the rule, no one can bring a watch to monitor the time.
On the following day, the two brothers set out for a walk. Sam walked gradually and smoothly while Tom ran so fast with the thought of getting a bigger share. At midday, Sam decided to go back home to be able to reach home before sunset. Meanwhile, Tom decided to go on twice as far as Sam had covered. When Tom noticed that the sun was about to set, he hurried back home, pulling his tired feet, but unfortunately it was impossible for him to reach home before the full sunset. Tom failed to win the race in his greed and selfishness.1
In the Gospel of St. Luke 12:13-21, Jesus speaks about the danger of greed and self-centeredness. He said, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Jesus clarifies that quantity of our material possessions will not pave us the way to the Kingdom of God. No matter how wealthy and materially equipped we are on earth will not guarantee us eternal life in heaven. What matters is the quality of using those possessions carefully in accordance to the values of heaven. Otherwise, like Tom, we will not be able to inherit the true riches from God.
Let me share with you three simple steps how material possessions can lead us to God.
Step #1: BE CONTENT. Appreciating what was already given to us by God and results of our own hard work can help us to be content and happy in life. It helps us not to compare ourselves with other people as regards to their financial status, promotions at work, fame and power. During various temptations, let us maintain our values as Catholics, holding on to the simplicity and contentment shown to us by Jesus.
Step #2: SHARE YOUR BLESSINGS. In order to appreciate ourselves, we need to share our blessings for example time, talents, treasure and traits or values to others. It is only then can we find ourselves as givers and not only as receivers of God’s blessings. By doing so, we develop and cultivate a grateful heart towards God’s love and mercy, that we constantly receive despite our unworthiness and imperfections. Finding ways to help the homeless through Church ministries, listening to a friend experiencing depression, or assisting a struggling classmate give us a lot of reason to be thankful for.
Step #3: LOOK AT JESUS. Whenever we focus our gaze on Jesus’ poverty, we can find no reasons nor excuses to be materialistic. He chose to be born into a poor family and humbly worked as a carpenter like Joseph. Hence, we certainly come to conclusion that if Jesus lived a simple life as our God and King, so much more for us, his children, are ought to choose the same lifestyle. Jesus understands that we need money, clothes, shelter, food in order to survive every single day. However, he showed us that those material things are the best and absolute things in life. They must serve as avenues that draw us closer to Jesus and be more like him in our relationship with our neighbors.
Finally, let me share with you the words of Maddy Malhotra, “If you aren’t happy for what you already have then what makes you think you will be happy with more.”