SOMEONE IN THE CROWD around Him said, “Master, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But He said:
“Man, who has appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?”
This was a matter of law for the Jewish courts; there was no need for Him to intervene.
Turning to the people, He said:
“Take heed and guard yourselves from all covetousness, for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. “
And He told them this parable:
“The land of a certain rich man brought forth abundant crops. And he began to take thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, for I have no room to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones, and there I will store up all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, thou hast many good things laid up for many years; take thy ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Thou fool, this night do they demand thy soul of thee; and the things that thou hast provided, whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich as regards God.”
Then He repeated the admonitions He had given in the Sermon on the Mount in Galilee:
“Therefore I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. The life is a greater thing than the food, and the body than the clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storeroom nor barn; yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than they! But which of you by being anxious about it can add to his stature a single cubit? Therefore if you are not able to do even a very little thing, why are you anxious concerning the rest? See how the lilies grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which today is alive in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more you, O you of little faith! And as for you, do not seek what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; and do not exalt yourselves (for after all these things the nations of the world seek); but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be given you besides. Do not be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms. Make for yourselves purses that do not grow old, a treasure unfailing in heaven, where neither thief draws near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart also will be.”
“Let your loins be girt about and your lamps burning, and you yourselves like men waiting for their master’s return from the wedding; so that when he comes and knocks, they may straightway open to him. Blessed are those servants whom the master, on his return, shall find watching. Amen I say to you, he will gird himself, and will make them recline at table, and will come and serve them. And if he comes in the second watch, and if in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants! But of this be assured, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would certainly have watched, and not have let his house be broken into. You must also be ready, because at an hour that you do not expect, the Son of Man is coming.”
Now Peter asked, “Lord, art Thou speaking this parable for us or for all alike?” And Jesus replied:
“Who, dost thou think, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will set over his household to give them their ration of grain in due time? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, shall find doing so. Truly I say to you, he will set him over all his goods.
“But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master delays his coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maids, and to eat and drink, and to get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day he does not expect, and in an hour he does not know, and will cut him asunder and make him share the lot of the unfaithful. But that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not make ready for him and did not act
according to his will, will be beaten with many stripes. Whereas he who did not know it, but did things deserving of stripes, will be beaten with few. But of everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and of him to whom they have entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
And now He spoke to them of His Passion and of the division which was to come about through Him, for His followers were to be cut off from their fellows and regarded as enemies even by their own families:
“I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!”
“Do you think that I came to give peace upon the earth? No, I tell you, but division. For henceforth in one house five will be divided, three against two, and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against his father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.”
Meditation: Covetousness is an elusive vice. No matter how grasping we may be, it is possible to think of some justification for our attitude. For we are often obliged to provide for the present and future needs of ourselves and our families. But do we not frequently designate as “needs” our desire for more luxury, for a finer home, for better clothes, for a bigger car, for a more expensive vacation? Christ said a man’s life does not consist in the “abundance of his possessions.” How much of the thought and energy of my life is devoted to my possessions?
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 153-156. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.