RICH MAN, POOR MAN

For those who are old enough to remember the mini-series back in the ‘70s, Rich Man, Poor Man, it was quite the thing to watch back then over a series of weeks. It involved two brothers . . . one who clearly took his life in a direction where he found success and the wealth that went with it, and the other brother whose life was anything but successful, ultimately ended up living his life laden with disappointment and failure.

Stuff
Do you call yourself rich or wealthy? Or are you one who, perhaps, struggles due to lack of resources? This week’s gospel talks of wealth, possessions, and what it really means to God. It’s important to keep our lives in perspective when it comes to “stuff” we have. Clearly, we work hard to ensure our family is healthy and comfortable. We work to ensure our children are properly educated at good schools and make efforts to ensure they live a happy life. We buy houses, cars, cell phones, big screen TVs, and other assorted luxuries. Are we happier because of these things or in spite of them? Would you be just as happy if you had fewer of these things or even none of these? Jesus tells us in the gospel this week that what matters to us here on earth is not what necessarily matters to God.
All we have comes from God and sharing those gifts is clearly what he wants of us. Does our Father expect us to give away all we have to those who have little or nothing? I want to believe that God does not want us to be captive by our possessions. “Stuff” – That is just what our houses, cars, TVs, and phones are … just “stuff”. It is often asked “Would you rather be healthy or rich?” For most of us, the answer is likely to be healthy. Your health is a gift from God as well. And it should be treated with the importance it deserves. For those whose answer is “health”, good health gives you the ability to enjoy what life has to offer, and to create life experiences which are often more valuable and cherished than physical wealth.
For those whose answer is “rich”, good luck with enjoying all that “stuff” if you are spending your life in emergency rooms or doctor’s offices. Our Father also has gifted many with intelligence and opportunity. Not everyone realizes what they have until they lose it. Just ask those you pass on the street who “live on the street”. It’s likely they were not always living there, and perhaps they used to be “you”. Those who are unable to live in a beautiful neighborhood or be away from daily violence in the city they live in, know the challenges and heartaches of living without resources. These are our brothers and sisters who we look at as we drive by and say “There but for the grace of God go I.” We all need to remember it only takes a handful of things to go wrong in our lives for us to be that individual we pass.

Love Thy Neighbor
Prayer is one way of helping to decide what more we can do to care for those who need help. God told us to love our neighbor in the gospel a couple of weeks ago. Are we rich in what matters to Him? Are we rich in love for our neighbor? Many of us may not be rich in “stuff” but being rich in our faith is priceless. How can we share our wealth, even if that wealth is not money, TVs, cell phones or houses? How we love our neighbor comes in many forms. Time, service, care, and forgiveness are all forms of love.
Are you generous with your time? Perhaps you give of yourself through service to others? And clearly, we as members of the Catholic Church, are all in the “forgiveness business”. Focusing more on forgiveness instead of blame and fault can only make God pleased in how we display our “love of neighbor”. All three of these, time, service, and forgiveness, are core Christian values we all need to consider when finding ways to be rich in “what matters to God” as we heard in the last line of the gospel this weekend.
So, whether you think of yourself as rich, poor or somewhere in the middle, lets all be sure to find ways to be rich in what matters to God, because ultimately our reward in heaven will weigh heavily on how we appreciate and share the gifts given to us while here on earth.
God tells us in the second commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Here’s hoping we all do, and that the amount of “stuff” we have is far down on the list of things we focus on!!

Debbie Field
Human Resources & Parish Engagement

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