Browsing Homilies

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ecc 1:2; 2:21-23 | Ps 90 | Col 3:1-5, 9-11 | Lk 12:13-21

Disciples don’t build bigger barns; they build longer tables.

Here we are, in the middle of the second portion of Ordinary Time, and we hear this call to prepare the way of the Lord—a sneak peak toward Advent, as well as a constant call in the mission of the Church. Preparing ourselves and our world demands that our gifts, our time, and all our wealth be given up for God. To give to God is to give to one another, so this is likewise a call to listen for God’s voice and to respond by softening our hearts and practicing the works of mercy.

As you and I prepare the way of the Lord, we might ask the central question of the rich man’s story: What do I do with my abundance? The Christian answer to this is quite simple: give it away! Share it with others! Don’t find yourself greeting Christ with a plethora of material goods stored away.

Today, 31 July, is the feast day of St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuit order. Were it not a Sunday, the prayers and orations would concern him. It’s his relic which was sealed in the base of our altar when the Bishop anointed the altar and rededicated our church last October. Saint Ignatius writes: “Take, Lord, receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my whole will, all that I have and all that I possess. You gave it all to me, Lord; I give it all back to you. Do with it as you will, according to your good pleasure. Give me your love and your grace; for with this I have all that I need.”

We are dependent on God, and not on the material goods we acquire and store away for ourselves. Everything is from God, and the call of a Christian is to return all to God through care of one another. As a recent practical example, consider your experience with, your reaction to, and the sights of the pandemic. You most likely recall empty shelves at grocery stores; disinfectant wipes and sprays sold out; closets full of toilet paper, diapers, and paper towels; make-shift “masks” crafted from bandanas and scarves. When our abundance as Americans was threatened, many failed to build a longer table—to share our stock. Instead, we redistributed closet space to make room for extra materials. We built “bigger barns.”

That being said, in many spaces, there was a spirit of care, love of neighbor, and togetherness (despite the distance). Frontline workers stepped up and made sacrifices for the common good; volunteers across the world sewed masks for those in need; service organizations got creative in how to keep feeding, housing, and caring for the hungry and those in need. These divergent paths demonstrate the need for us, as Christian servants, to stand up and do God’s work in the world.

After our identity as a beloved daughter or son of God, we are known as servants. It’s how our opening prayer began: “Draw near to your servants, O Lord …” And the text throughout the funeral rite prays: “…that by the grace of your mercy you may command the name of your servant, N. to be inscribed in the book of life.”

Be near, O Lord, we pray, to your servant N., on whose funeral day…”

O God, who alone are able to give life after death, free your servant N. from all sins…”

The pope himself receives the singular title, “Servant of the Servants of the Lord.” So, it is never too much or too inconvenient to answer the call to prepare the way of the Lord—starting in our own lives, communities, and societies. Together, then, we can transform a society which is often enough driven by selfishness and self-achievement into one instead that welcomes all, cares for the marginalized, and shares our goods just as the very early Christian community did.

Disciples don’t build bigger barns; we build longer tables.


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