HOMILY FOR THE 18TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: THE GOAL OF HUMAN EXISTENCE
BY: Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY JULY 31 2022
God the Creator offers us opportunities of many good and valuable things in the world; material things that are in themselves good; things that form part of God’s gifts and blessings to humanity and part of the auxiliary elements of the Created Order. But also, these things can be very destructive when mismanaged and when we allow them to take the place of the Giver in our lives. The positive and true value of things is determined by how they are able to orient us towards God and how they are able to assist us to build a just and peaceful society. May we never lose sight of God in the pursuit of material goods; Amen.
It is always disheartening to see how that which should make us live a truly human life sometimes make us to grow very inhuman, insincere and very brutish towards our brothers and sisters. This was exactly the case with the man who approached Jesus in the Gospel Reading of today (Luke 12:13-21). His request to Jesus portrays how destroyed this man was internally because of the experience he must have had with his siblings; “Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.” It was obvious that this man’s family has disintegrated as a result of the selfish attitude of some of his family members caused by greed and overemphasis on material possession. As a result, what should have helped them to live better lives and to flourish as a united and progressive family has become the source of their peril and downfall. Most unfortunate was the fact that this greed was over something they never worked for; something that was totally _gratis_ (free of charge). This was also the mistake of the rich man in the subsequent Parable of Jesus in the Gospel. The blessings of God, in the form of a rich harvest, became his greatest obstacle in building a healthy relationship with the Giver. He totally forgot that there is God. In the place of thanksgiving to God, he chose self aggrandisement. Instead of concentrating his future with God in the form of Eternal Life, he was preoccupied with a future that has nothing to offer other than loss. He said to himself, “this is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them, and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time.” No wonder he was called a fool by He Who is in-charge for he totally forgot that “a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more than he needs.”
When we look around us, we see this same error being repeated in varied forms. It becomes even worst in the face of all the materialistic and hedonistic tendencies that surround us today. Wealth at all cost is greatly catapulting some young and old people into doing the unthinkable. The reality of human trafficking and exploitation, fetish practices, ecological abuse, abuse of power, discrimination, etc, are the different ways in which the unguided desire for the acquisition of wealth and the misuse of material goods are causing the dilapidation of the peaceful and just social order and the integral human development which are God’s wish to all of His children. In the face of these anomalies and unchristian inclinations, the Second Reading (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:21-23) reminds us that “vanity of vanities. All is vanity!” Material things are good and necessary for meaningful human existence. However, they do not constitute the centre and goal of why we are here. They are only means to achieve that goal. It becomes very discordant how the means sometimes distract us from the goal; and even sometimes block us entirely from reaching the goal. Material goods and possession lose their ultimate value when they constitute obstacles on our Pilgrimage of Faith. On the contrary, our encounter with God under the guidance of the Holy Spirit reminds us that “we have been brought back to true life with Christ, we must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand” (Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11). The desire for material possession that is not guided and pruned by the sincere and eschatological focus on God breeds anti-Christian proclivities “that belong only to earthly life: fornication, impurity, guilty passion, evil desires and especially greed, which is the same thing as worshipping a false god.” These inclinations suffocate and destroy the Life of Grace. They make us inhuman and live in a manner that is _infra dignitatem_. The goodness and beauty of material possessions resplend only when they point us to the Giver.
Heavenly Father, bless our daily struggles, work and endeavours. In the pursuit of the good things of this world, may we never lose sight of the Eternal Good that dwells in the World beyond. May the material benefactions we have received from You help us to know, love and serve You better; Amen. Happy Sunday;
Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE