Ultimate Worth

In previous homilies I have raised the question: where do we invest our time, energy, talent, enthusiasm and money to? This tells us what we ultimately worship (ascribe ultimate worth to)?

The Parable in this Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 12:13-21) is known as the Parable of the Rich Fool. In this Gospel Passage this man uses the word “I” six times and the word “my” five times. This tells us that he ascribes his ultimate worth to himself and his possessions. There is no sense of his thinking about his family, friends or the wider community. There is no sense of any gratitude towards God either for having been blessed with a plentiful crop. The Gospel tells us “he thinks to himself.” His point of reference is himself alone. God and others are not even in the picture.

In the 1960’s Eric Fromm wrote a book entitled “To be Or to Have”. In this book he made the point that we live in a society in which;

  • the supreme goal is to have and to have more and more.
  • the very essence of being is having.
  • if one has nothing, one is nothing.

Is there any truth to this in our society today fifty years on?

The point of the Parable of the Rich Fool is twofold. Firstly, we are not to devote our lives to the gathering and accumulation of wealth. There is an interesting point made in the parable where God says to the man “This very night the demand will be made for your soul and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?” This echoes the thought expressed in Ecclesiastes 2:18 where it says, “I hated all my toil in which I toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the person who will come after me.” Secondly, we are not blessed by God so we can hoard our wealth to ourselves. So, if God has blessed us with material wealth, don’t set our hearts on it but rather run towards God.

We are reminded that all things in this world are transitory and we are called to reflect on the true value of all things as they are in relationship to God. In our relationship with God we should be considering others. Therefore, when we have something before us that we really need to think about we should not do it all on our own. One thing we could consider doing this week is invite Jesus to take inventory with us of our possessions, our habits, our relationships and all our ways of thinking and discern with him whether they bring us closer to God?