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Homily for July 31, 2022 – The 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO

The 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

(Eccl. 1:2, 2: 21 – 23; Ps 90; Col 3: 1 – 5, 9 – 11; Luke 12: 13 – 21)

Filled with passion, with joy in his belief, in what he treasures, St. Paul is speaking from his own “hidden life with Christ in God.” The Risen, Ascended Jesus is the Lord of his hidden life – hidden not in some isolated, passive, inactive way – rather, a dynamic life centered on and nourished by Christ. So he can say, “For me, to live is Christ” and “Nothing can separate me from the love of Christ!”

So Paul speaks to us from this personal hiddenness; he speaks from his own experience of Jesus Christ and with great conviction: “Your life is hidden with Christ in God!” – yours and mine! St. Paul is telling us, as baptized men and women, that Jesus is the Lord of our lives. We are caught up in a relationship like no other – nothing, no one can take His place – He is the Lord, the only Lord.

The danger, the temptation is to water down this relationship, live it half-heartedly, or, for some, to totally deny it. Jesus’ parable addresses this issue. The man, already rich, wants more. He is possessed by his possessions, by greed; living so focused on the material, on wealth, he really lives in illusion he denies his own death. The idolatry of wealth has blinded him to mortality, to his own mortality. But reality breaks into his fantasy: “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you” and it was. The old adage stands: “You can’t take it with you!”

My brothers and sisters, Jesus’ parable is a good, healthy warning to all of us whatever our vocation. The possessions, stuff, work, hobbies – you name it – are not the end-all-be-all of life, any life. Possessing what is necessary, what is beautiful, what is precious is part of life – a part of life that is good. But when one is possessed by them, centered on them then this is nothing more than idolatry. It is prostituting oneself for pleasure, for power, for self. Psalm 62 sets before us great wisdom: “Do not set your heart on riches even when they increase.”

Adoration is owed to God alone – to make something a kind of god to which I give devotion, which I guard, which I must have – is to have created a god to my liking. We can become like an Aaron forming the golden calf for the Israelites in the desert – in a word, idolatry is always hanging around.