Reading II: Colossians 3:
In today’s Gospel of Luke, we hear Jesus teaching his followers about the foolishness of being greedy. He tells a parable (a story to teach a lesson) about a rich farmer who is doing well and has barns totally filled. He decides to tear down his barns and build larger ones to hold more grain and other possessions.
Then he says to himself: “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!” However, God says to him, “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?”
What are some other reasons that focus on making large amounts of money, hoarding things, or seeking after fame or popularity is foolish? First, our life here is short. If we spend our time and energies on such things, we will miss out on the important things asked of us by our Creator: to love Him, our neighbor, and ourselves.
Today, it seems as if we are being encouraged to focus on worldly things. In particular, I recall the TV program called ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.’ That came into my mind one day as I was walking through a park with a little girl who looked up at me and asked: “Would you like to be rich and famous?” When I responded that I was not interested in that, she remained quiet. That response probably surprised her since wealth and prestige seemed to be what people desire.
In Matthew’s Gospel, he lists the teachings of Jesus in a meaningful way. Regarding the pursuit of riches, he says:
Do not store up riches for yourselves where on earth, where
moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal.
Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths
and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and
steal. For your heart will always be where your riches are. — Matthew 6:19
Matthew vividly describes the Final Judgment. Jesus is pictured as a King on his throne. People of all nations are gathered before Him. He separates them into two groups. On His right, He puts the righteous and says: “Come you are blessed by my Father! Come and possess the Kingdom which has been prepared for you ever since the creation of the world. I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you cared for me; in prison and you visited me.’
The righteous will respond by asking when they came to the aid of the King. His reply will be: ‘I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me!’
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Away from me, you that are under God’s curse! Away to the eternal fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels! I was hungry, but you would not feed me, thirsty…, I tell you, whenever you refused to help one of these least important ones, you refused to help me.’ These, then, will be sent off to eternal punishment, but the righteous will go to eternal life.”
— Matthew 25:34-46
— Matthew 25:34-46
Reflection Question: Which work of mercy to you feel called to perform this coming week?
Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
Tesoros en el Cielo
Jesús enseñando a sus seguidores acerca de la insensatez de ser codicioso. Él cuenta una parábola (una historia para enseñar una lección) sobre un granjero rico que está bien y tiene graneros totalmente llenos. Decide derribar sus graneros y construir otros más grandes para contener más granos y otras posesiones.
Entonces se dice a sí mismo: “Ahora, en cuanto a ti, tienes muchas cosas buenas almacenadas durante muchos años, descansa, come, bebe, ¡sé feliz!” Sin embargo, Dios le dice:“Tonto, esta noche tu vida te será exigida; y las cosas que has preparado, ¿a quién van a pertenecer?”
¿Cuáles son algunas otras razones que se centran en hacer grandes cantidades de dinero, acaparar cosas o buscar fama o popularidad es una tontería? Primero, nuestra vida aquí es corta. Si dedicamos nuestro tiempo y energía a tales cosas, perderemos las cosas importantes que nos pide nuestro Creador: amarlo a Él, a nuestro prójimo y a nosotros mismos.
Hoy en día, parece que estamos siendo alentados a enfocarnos en cosas mundanas. En particular, recuerdo el programa de televisión llamado ‘Estilos de vida de los ricos y famosos’. Eso me vino a la mente un día mientras caminaba por un parque con una niña que me miró y me preguntó: “¿Te gustaría ser rico y famoso?” Cuando respondí que no estaba interesada en eso, ella se quedó callada. Esa respuesta probablemente la sorprendió ya que la riqueza y el prestigio parecían ser lo que la gente deseaba.
En el Evangelio de Mateo, él enumera las enseñanzas de Jesús de una manera significativa. Respecto a la búsqueda de riquezas, dice:
No se acumulen riquezas para ustedes mismos donde en la tierra, donde
las polillas y el óxido destruyen, y los ladrones entran y roban.
En su lugar, acumule riquezas para ustedes en el cielo, donde las polillas
y el óxido no puede destruir, y los ladrones no pueden entrar y
robar. Porque tu corazón siempre estará donde están tus riquezas. — Mateo 6:19
Mateo describe vívidamente el Juicio Final. Jesús es representado como un rey en su trono. La gente de todas las naciones están reunidas delante de él. Los separa en dos grupos. A su derecha, Él pone a los justos y dice: “¡Ven, eres bendecido por mi Padre! Ven y posee el Reino que ha sido preparado para ti desde la creación del mundo. Tuve hambre y me alimentaste, sed y me diste de beber; Fui forastero y me recibiste en tus casas, desnudo y me vestiste; Yo estaba enferma, y tu cuidaste de mi; En la cárcel y tú me visitaste’.
Los justos responderán preguntando cuándo acudieron en ayuda del rey. Su respuesta será: ‘Te digo, siempre que hiciste esto por uno de los menos importantes de estos hermanos míos, ¡lo hiciste por mí!’
Entonces dirá a los de su izquierda: “¡Fuera de mí, tú que estás bajo la maldición de Dios! ¡Fuera el fuego eterno que ha sido preparado para el diablo y sus ángeles! Tenía hambre, pero no me darías de comer, sed ... te digo que siempre que te niegues a ayudar a uno de los menos importantes, me niegas a ayudarme. "Estos, entonces, serán enviados al castigo eterno, pero los justos irán a la vida eterna”.
— Mateo 25:34-46
— Mateo 25:34-46
Pregunta de Reflexión: ¿Qué trabajo de misericordia te sientes llamado a realizar esta próxima semana?
Stephanie Morris, Ph. D, Historian, Certified Archivist, emerita
Mother Katharine said that “There is nothing little in what is done for God.” An “act of mercy” can be something as small as calling or sending a cheery card to an elderly or infirm neighbor. Returning a shopping cart to the store or to the nearest “cart lot” for a woman who has just placed her child and her groceries in her car is a simple act of mercy.
Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
Last Sunday my mother, her neighbor, and I went to brunch at the retirement community into which she will soon be moving. A resident named Betsy joined us at the table. After I got mom’s food plated, I headed to the buffet table to select my food. I saw Betsy struggling to balance plates on the seat of her Rollator, and I asked if I could help her. She gratefully accepted. Once we settled in at our table, I asked Betsy to tell us something about herself. Her response was a real fork dropper as she replied, “I am a Holocaust Survivor.” She certainly had our attention. Betsy’s story is one of pain, abuse, starvation, loss and triumph.
The Nazis invaded Amsterdam when Betsy was four years old. She spent the next 5 years in hiding and in encampments, gaining freedom when she was ten years old. She “missed out” on childhood, and up to that time, she had never been to school. Betsy knew excruciating hunger. Death and devastation were etched in her mind, heart, and soul. In spite of all that horror, she made the decision to greet each day with thanks and the wonder of being alive. Her entire family was executed in Auschwitz. Betsy related details of atrocities that tore at my heart.
A network of farmers hid Betsy and her family, shared their meager food rations and offered moral support. As she spoke, I thought of how those brave individuals, who were primarily Christians, fulfilled the works of mercy and were Good Samaritans to their Jewish brethren. The Nazis threatened to burn down their farms if the farmers were harboring Jews. Yet, the network remained active. The farmers were willing to lay down their lives and their livelihoods to protect their neighbors.
Betsy’s story reminded me of Anne Frank’s story. Anne and her family were hidden for two years before being discovered and transported to death camps. I also thought of Corrie ten Boom who hid hundreds of Jews in her family home to protect them from arrest by the Nazis. When their activities were discovered, the entire ten Boom family was deported to concentration camps. The ten Boom’s were ardent Christians; their faith inspired them to serve their community, and while imprisoned Corrie and her sister, Betsy, spent evenings in the concentration camp sharing Scripture stories with their fellow Jewish inmates. Corrie was the only family member to survive. Her family paid the ultimate price to shelter and nourish Christ’s brothers and sisters.
As for Betsy, when the war ended, she was placed in a United States sponsored shelter where she received her grade school education. She excelled in her studies and was, likewise, sponsored for high school. She went on to earn a Master’s Degree in teaching. She enjoyed a career as a college professor, engaging students and professors alike as she shared personal experiences of the Holocaust. She pledged to keep her story alive so that no one forgets the consequences of hate. As we were getting ready to go, Betsy grasped my hand and shared with me that she was feeling great sadness. Her husband had suffered a stroke twelve days prior and was not making much progress. There were days when he did not even recognize her. I promised to pray for his recovery. She thanked me. The connection that results from such an exchange is nothing short of divine.
Betsy’s story stays with me. I can only hope that fear would not prevent me from acting in a Christ-like manner. The work of mercy I feel called to do this week is to recognize the suffering Christ in all those who call out for help and to take appropriate steps to alleviate their pain. I yearn to hear the words of Jesus, “Come possess the Kingdom.”