Homily for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

posted 15 Aug 2022, 01:55 by Parish Office

Homily for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

(30 & 31/7/22)

If you watch the last film Laurel and Hardy ever produced, it begins like this: their uncle has died and they go to the solicitors to request their share of the inheritance. The three men at the firm begin by saying, “Your uncle was quite an eccentric.” ... “He didn’t believe in banks.” … “He insisted on keeping his money in cash.” And they produce three piles of money, in French francs, Italian lira and English pounds. Hardy is about to put the three piles of money into his case, when they say that first they have to deduct the relevant fees. About half of the money disappears. Then Hardy tries to take the remaining money, but he is told, wait, we have to now deduct taxes. The vast majority now disappears from the remaining piles of money. Finally he is able to collect what remains, just a few notes. They have, though, also inherited a yacht and an island. But when they get to the dockyard, they then spend the remainder of the French francs on the dock fees, plus a little “tax”. And that’s how the film begins.

In recent history, we’ve been used to a fairly secure financial situation in this country. Obviously we have had recessions and people have found it rather hard at times, but compared with some countries, inflation and unemployment have been nowhere near as high. But we are learning now that financial security is not necessarily set in stone. There is the saying that there are two things certain in life: death and taxes. Perhaps, though, we can add a third: suffering. We don’t like suffering, and do what we can to avoid it, and that is part of why so many pursue riches – they think it will make their lives secure, worry-free and make life so much easier.

It doesn’t necessarily work that way, though. On one level, you can talk about loss due to inflation, theft, burglary, becoming a target due to your wealth, having your property vandalised, and then the threat of disease, and some diseases, no money can cure. But what about salvation? There are those who spend so much time acquiring wealth, and just leave the issue of salvation to deal with itself. Our Lord seems to imply that this is back-to-front logic. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and its righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” “Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more than he needs.” “Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it

be then?” [Quotes both from today’s Gospel.] We could say: you can’t take it with you. And in the first reading, the Preacher says that one person works hard to amass wealth, and another inherits it without doing any real work for it. This is vanity. Or, as in the case of the Laurel and Hardy film, one person works hard for it, and then others don’t inherit much of it after all, because the tax man and the solicitors get their hands on it first. Make yourselves rich in the sight of God. “[S]tore up treasure for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor woodworms destroy them and thieves cannot break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). “[U]se money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity.” (Luke 16:9).

Let us make sure we are not “too busy” to give priority to the things of God. Money and possessions are not secure in this life, and we can’t take them with us to the next.