Even in the 21st century we hear of people whose homes are filled to overflowing with wardrobes full of clothes, boxes of trinkets, piles of gadgets, mountains of paper, broken machinery, souvenirs and what can only be best called junk. We wonder why someone would gather so much clutter, so many unusable articles. It’s not as if they have any use for most of the paraphernalia or even that they have sentimental reasons for keeping all the stuff. It seems that the point is to own things, to have them, to possess them.
While the person who accumulates mountains of unusable belongings may elicit pity from us, the rich man in the gospel who piled up possessions does not. St. Luke tells us that he grew rich for himself. This man represents a way of life totally opposite to the way Our Lord lived and the way he calls his disciples to live.
Being a Christian doesn’t involve hating the things of this world, but rather using them with reverence and sharing them with a generous heart. The rich man wasn’t blamed so much for owning things, but for amassing wealth for himself and not being rich in the sight of God.
Our Lord often spoke about clinging to possessions. He spoke more often about sharing with those in need. And even more often, Our Lord reminded his hearers to measure the riches of this world with those of the next.
Imagine the praise the rich man would have received if he had said that he was working hard to pull in a good harvest so that he could feed the hungry and alleviate some of the poverty in the town.
As we come to the altar to give thanks to God for all that we have been given, we pray that we may use our possessions as Our Lord taught, using the things of this world with respect and reverence and sharing whatever riches we have with those in greater need.