Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 114

Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’

In Jesus' parable of the rich man we hear the self-referential words my and I ten times, plus you as he talks to himself. He's not quite as self-obsessed as President Nixon who spoke of himself in the third person, (and as Candidate Donald Trump today) but clearly he knows of no one on Earth but himself. 

It needn't be said that his doom is sealed. He must spend Eternity in the same isolation in which he lived his life. 

Observers have noted how the Internet may open us to the existence of others -- billions of others -- or it may shut us off from them. We can readily meet people of every race, tongue and creed on the Net; there are even tools for translating their speech. We can discover how different people think and feel, how they react differently than ourselves to many situations. 

We can discover how African-American parents instruct their children in addressing white police; and what African-Americans in the United States mean by the expression, "driving while black." We can learn that nearly every young black man has been pulled over for this "crime." 

Or -- with the Internet -- we can isolate ourselves by discovering thousands of "friends" who agree with everything we already believe. We can form our own personal support groups even if those shared interests are immoral, perverted or illegal. Those networks of "friends" assure one another their peculiar interests are perfectly normal, that "the Good God made us this way." No matter how strange you might be, or how bizarre your tastes, there is someone out there who is strange in the very same way. 

Today's gospel reminds us that wealth is the privilege of isolation. It brings with it the illusion of freedom and self-reliance. The wealthy can always find someone to do their bidding, legal or illegal. They often suppose they are above the law, and they are generally right about that. Prosecution and conviction only means, "You're not quite rich enough!" 

The Book of Genesis tells the wonderful story of God's inspection of the City of Babel. In this comical tale, the Lord goes down to see what is happening in that bizarre city; and then he goes farther down to touch them with confusion. This double descent indicates how high and lofty the Lord is above our human affairs, and how small even the greatest of us are. From God's height the tallest structure in the world is barely visible; the wealthiest human being is a wretched pauper in God's sight. His new barns and stored grain are ludicrous, like a fat man hiding behind a sapling. 

Jesus urges us to store up for yourself treasure in heaven, and the only treasure that survives death is the love we have for one another. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.