18th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Call to worship

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the story of a rich man who deeply cares about his earthly possessions. Jesus calls us to acknowledge and celebrate the treasures we have stored in heaven.

  • To the point: The rich man in today’s Gospel parable judges that he has stored up enough possessions to guarantee a good life without worries — so he thinks. Any reliance on wealth and possessions, however, is pure folly — both worldly possessions and this life are fleeting. What truly matters is the inheritance that only God can give: the fullness of eternal life. What “matters to God” is spending our life dispossessing ourselves of anything which hinders us from growing into the fullness of life.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 12: 13-21) to the first reading: The first reading describes in greater detail the misfortune which befalls the rich man in the Gospel parable. Laboring for wealth and possessions is not only foolish but results in sorrow, grief, and anxiety.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: We naturally and responsibly store up wealth to take care of our future. There is nothing wrong with this kind of planning. The issue of the Gospel is that we must look beyond the wealth, guard against sheer greed, and keep our eye turned toward what “matters to God.”

Today’s scriptures remind us of the brevity of life and the dangers of self-containment. Our possessions, knowledge and work avail us nothing. When we die, all we have could be easily given to another who does not deserve it at all.

The self-satisfied man who builds bigger storehouses for the fruits of his labor will die before he enjoys any of it. He symbolizes the self-contained person delighting in his possessions, proud of his accomplishments — the hoarder set up for an easy life. He has lost contact with the fragility of his own life; his possessions own him. He has shared little.

Today’s readings warn us about the illusions that beset us, the sounds of the sirens that lure us. Ours is a plain and crucial choice. Who will be our God? Before what powers will we fall on our knees? Our real inheritance lies in the fullness of life that God wishes to give us. We lose sight of that when worries, obsessions, and possessions obstruct our view.

Centering prayers

The Gospel

(Luke 12: 13-21)

Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves
but are not rich in what matters to God.

If you owned all the clothes in the mall
but you would not clothe the naked;
if you sipped tasty wines
but didn’t give up a glass of cold water;
If you took time to rake in money
but did not spread love;
then, what would you have?
What would you have us have, O Christ?
Make us want that more than anything else.

The First Reading

(Ecclesiastes 1: 2, 2: 21-23)

What profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart
with which he has labored under the sun?

Lord, between our first breath and our last,
before you call us home, you give us time.
Time to work hard, time to pray well,
time to play and time to give;
time to be with friends, time to love and be loved.
When our hours are spent, please let us
hear you say, “I was here with you through it all.
I gave you precious time. You have used it well.”

The Second Reading

(Colossians 3: 1-5, 9-11)

If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above.

Christ, please, through your Holy Spirit,
help us take off the old self
and put on what is new so we can better
seek what is above.

Copyright © 2022, Anne M. Osdieck

Music for reflection