18th Sunday - homily
I met with a financial consultant last week about opening a retirement account. I have neglected to do this for a little while, and as I explained to him, I have a million things on my mind; my money is probably the last thing (on my mind). But, he was a nice guy and we had a good meeting. It was funny, though, when he was going through the form, filling out my information. He said, “Fr Greg, what is your net worth?” I started laughing. I asked him how one calculates such a number. He said that it’s by looking at bank accounts, mutual funds, stocks, etc. So, I gave him a ballpark number and then said, “that’s really bad, isn’t it?”
Now, I am not telling that story in order to receive donations or money from anyone! I am taken care of and doing fine financially. I am not poor. I’m not rich, but I’m not poor. I tell this story because I think it relates to today’s readings, especially the Gospel. I hear Jesus saying to each one of us, ‘what is your spiritual net worth?’
It is harder to figure out our spiritual net worth than financial. We can’t really come up with a number. But, Jesus gives us some help in determining it. It would be about how much time we spend with things that matter to God. St Paul, in the second reading, might be saying that to determine our spiritual net worth is to look at how time we spend thinking about and seeking the things that are above. Both of them use strong language to denounce investing in earthly treasure only.
Jesus speaks of a rich man in a parable. This man is all about himself. It’s kind of funny hearing him talk to himself. I picture him holding up a mirror when he says to himself, “As for you”…it’s like “hey big guy! Eat, sleep, drink, be merry”. He builds up treasure for himself only. Jesus would say to him, “you fool”. St Paul gives specific examples of investing in earthly things only: immorality, impurity, greed, and the like. We see these examples play out, especially in the news the past few weeks.
With immorality: adults killing babies, their children, and dogs, and then disposing of them when they’re done with them. They are rich in violence. With impurity: we see so many people, mostly men, viewing pornography on a regular basis. We know that they invest so much money in it because pornography is a billion dollar industry. They are rich in impurity. With greed: how many people work 90 hour weeks to get the bigger house, the nicer car, and more “security”, but neglect their spouses and children in the process. They are rich in possessions. In all of these examples, we see people investing their time, energy, and money in foolish ways. They are building up treasure for themselves but there is nothing good in that.
Are we making foolish investments with our time, talent, and treasure? This is a wake-up call for us because, like the rich man, our life might be demanded of us at any time. Unfortunately and tragically, the people in Minneapolis were reminded of this with the bridge collapse. They were just driving down a road…crossing a bridge. And for some of them, their lives were demanded of them. We always have to be ready. Are we investing in the next life? Are we building up treasure in heaven? Are we planning for our eternal retirement?
How do we increase our spiritual net worth? What is a wise investment in heavenly treasure? Jesus Christ. Any move we make towards Christ is an investment in eternal life. He offers the best investment plan on the planet: he says that anything we do for his Kingdom will be returned 30, 60, or 100 fold back to us.
The most practical and profound way to invest in Christ is in the Eucharist. When we come to the Eucharist, we are making a down payment for eternal life. When we go to Confession or any of the sacrament, we are making a deposit for heaven. One day, we will see Jesus face to face. As he reviews our spiritual portfolio and our spiritual net worth, we don’t want him to say, ‘you fool’. We want him to say, ‘well done, good and faithful servant. Come, share your master’s joy.”