“Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” (Lk 12:15)
Our Lord exhorts us to be vigilant against our tendency towards greed. St. Paul, in our second reading from Colossians also advises us: “If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1). Many may not realize that these readings, especially the Gospel, speak to the tenth commandment: “You shall not covet…anything that is your neighbor’s…you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field or his manservant or his maidservant or his ox or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17; Deut 5:21).
The catechism, especially paragraph CCC2536, says: “The tenth commandment forbids greed and the desire to amass earthly goods without limit. It forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their attendant power. It also forbids the desire to commit injustice by harming our neighbor in his temporal goods: “When the law says ‘you shall not covet’, these words mean that we should banish our desires for whatever does not belong to us. Our thirst for another’s goods is immense, infinite, never quenched. Thus it is written ‘He who loves money never has money enough’.” (Roman Catechism III, 37; cf. Sirach 5:8)
God’s wisdom instructs us further. In the book of Proverbs, it says: “in his riches man lacks wisdom.” Many of us believe it is a wise and prudent thing to save for a retirement fund, and so it is. But God’s wisdom today also reminds us to invest in true and lasting wealth. What I mean is that we do not always realize that our days are numbered. We live our lives as if there will always be “time later” to do the things our crammed schedules force us to put off. “We can always make it up to our loved ones tomorrow or next weekend or during vacation or after this project,” we say. But the gospel makes clear that there is a limit to our time here on earth. Like the rich farmer who was so self-centered and so self-sufficient, we shut ourselves off from life’s most enriching moments. What is really a little frightening about this is that it can happen to us without our realizing it is happening.
Sisters and brothers, let us heed our Lord’s warnings to us and seek the true and lasting happiness of becoming “rich in what matters to God” (Lk 12:21). “Faith,” someone once said, “is the constant awareness that life is a journey of discovery of the holy in our midst, as we make our way to God’s eternal dwelling place.”