POSSESSIONS AND TRUE HAPPINESS
Parable of the Rich Fool
18th SUNDAY ON ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C
Who wants to be a millionaire? Of course, a lot of us want to. I actually heard that most people from Pleasanton are wealthier than probably other cities here in Oakland, is it true? But how about this, who wants to be HAPPY? I believe that people who are millionaires are NOT NECESSARILY happy and those who are not millionaires though not wealthy COULD EVEN BE happier, agree? You could either wait till you’re wealthy to be happy or become more happy now and thereby create more wealth in your own way (which could not be MONEY essentially). Here is a list of things that can make you happy millionaire or not by Geoffrey James of INC.com (See link below):
1. Life. It's easy to forget that the mere fact of conscious existence--that you are alive--is itself a miracle. As the old saying goes "every day above ground is a good day."
2. Health. Rather than thinking of illness as something bad that happens to you, start thinking of health as something good that's happening to you.
3. Purpose. There is nothing more conducive to long-term happiness than knowing that your actions are making the world a better place.
4. Friendship. Almost everyone has friends, although it's easy to lose track of them in the rush of events. Take a few minutes--today--to reconnect with some of them.
5. Family. If you've got a good relationship with your family, rejoice! You're experiencing one of the deepest sources of happiness on the planet.
Possessions are necessary for life. But too much focus on possessions can turn possessions into obsessions. When one is so consumed with the things one has, so much so that one no longer hears the urgent call of God, then one has indeed set the wrong priorities. I believe that the Gospels we had Sundays ago have prepared us to this very moment. For instance, the Gospel about Martha and Mary two Sundays ago urged us to become “persons of virtues” – persons who are able to set their priorities between physical and spiritual needs. To this point, God expects that we are now ready to go a notch higher, that is, to be ready to detach ourselves from worldly things and focus our attention to what truly matters. God asks us to bank on the word of God more than anything else.
To illustrate his point Jesus tells the Parable of the Rich Fool. When you read the parable you ask yourself, “What wrong did this man do?” Think about it. The man did his honest work on his farmland. Was it wrong? NO! The land gave a good harvest, as expected. Was this wrong? NO! The man decided to build a larger storage for the crop to contain his harvest. Was this wrong? NO! However, Jesus used him as an illustration of greed even though he took nobody’s money. His greed lies in what he did not do. As in a saying “greed is the belief that there is no life after death. We grab what we can while we can however we can and then hold on to it hard.” Now you see why the rich man qualifies as an example of greed. Now you see why Jesus was so hard on greed. Greed is the worship of another god. The name of that god is Mammon or Money or Materialism. Today’s gospel invites us to believe in the God of Jesus Christ who alone can give eternal life and not in the god of this world who gives us the false promise of immortality through accumulation of possessions.
At the turn of the century, actress Alla Nazimova was one of this country's earliest stars. Unlike many of her colleagues, Nazimova did not become trapped by a glamorous lifestyle. How did she escape? Her perspective on material things changed the day a fire swept through her Hollywood neighborhood. As the fire moved ever closer to her home, Nazimova ran from room to room, searching for her most valuable possessions to save. To her surprise, none of her pretty furnishings and knick-knacks mattered to her at that moment. The only things she took with her were a few photographs. The fire never reached Nazimova's house, but when she returned to it, nothing felt the same. She began getting rid of her possessions, and reported greater happiness with less things. Most of us can relate to that if we will think about it. Why do we get trapped in this cycle of wanting more and more nice things? Jesus in today’s gospel says God does not call us evil people; simply foolish.
What can this story tell us? It tells us that we could lose earthly possessions at some point. Our earthly possessions won’t stay forever, but God’s word will. When Christ taught us to pray the Our Father last week, he asked us to ask for “BREAD.” But it was not just the bread that satisfies our bodily hunger, it was bread that brings eternal life; bread that Christ provides through the sacraments; bread that truly matters.
Let me finished up with the 3 other things that could give us true wealth/happiness:
6. Community. Having the support of a wider group makes you more aware that you're part of something greater than yourself.
7. Laughter. It is impossible to laugh and be miserable at the same time. Regular doses of laughter are more than medicine... it's the flavor of life.
8. Love. 'Nuff said. Create these things in your life and I guarantee that you'll either become more wealthy or, if not, you won't really care anyway because you'll already have what's important.
An old lady was on a flight. She was sitting beside a rich, young businessman. After the in-flight meal she took out her Holy Bible and started her devotions. The businessman glanced at her and said, "Do you really believe all that stuff in the Bible is true?
"Well, yes, as a matter of fact I do," said the old lady.
"Yeah, right..." the man scoffed, "like... what's that guy's name... the one who got swallowed by a whale..."
"You mean Jonah?"
"Yeah, Jonah. Do you actually believe he survived for three days in the belly of a fish?"
"I don't know," replied the old lady, "but I can ask him when I see him in heaven someday."
Feeling smart, the young man said: "OK, but what if he's not in heaven because he went to hell?"
"Then you can ask him yourself when you get there," replied the old lady calmly.
Again, possessions are necessary for life. But possessions can assume such an importance in one’s life that they become obsessions. Don’t let your possessions become your obsessions but instruments that would lead us to our eternal goal. Let it be a means towards an end, to Christ! Seek for true wealth and true happiness, something that not millions of dollars can buy.
Geoffrey James article
- 10 Things Better Than Money | Inc.com
Money does buy happiness, but happiness also creates wealth.
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