Sunday, August 1, 2010

Aggressively Self-Giving

Homily from the 18th Week in Ordinary Time - Year C

A schoolteacher asked her English class what part of speech the word "mine" was.  The answer she was looking for was possessive pronoun.  A student raised his hand and answered "Aggressive pronoun?" 

The young student wasn't entirely wrong.  Words like "mine" can be used aggressively.  Focusing on the self makes us aggressively self-centered.

Jesus tells a parable about a man who is aggressively self-centered.  Listen to how many times the man uses the words, "me," "myself" or "I":

"What shall I do?  For I do not have any space to store MY harvest.  This is what I shall do, I shall tear down MY barns and build larger ones.  There I shall store all MY grain and other goods.  Then I shall say to MYSELF... eat, drink and be merry."

This guy is a real piece of work.  The only person he cares about is himself.  He is aggressively self-centered.

In the gospel today Jesus warns us, "Take care to guard against all greed."  Notice however that Jesus does not say that being rich is bad in itself.  Jesus says, "One may be rich."  Jesus is warning us not about our riches in and of themselves, but about our attitude about our riches.  Our lives do not consist of possessions.

This past week, a large number of youth from around our diocese saw an example of a good attitude towards material goods.  On Wednesday, our parish hosted an XLT (which stands for "Exalt!") an hour of praise and worship music and Eucharistic Adoration where dozens of teens knelt around the sanctuary worshipping Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance on our altar.

Immediately following the XLT, a family from our parish invited all the teens to their house for some refreshments.  So, we all went over, enjoyed some snacks and sodas, played some card games and enjoyed some good fellowship. 

This family had chosen to be the opposite of the man in the parable.  Rather than horde their possessions, they chose to share the blessings they had been given with others.

And as I walked around the house, I noticed something.  I noticed a Crucifix on the wall.  Then I noticed a picture of Mary on another wall.  And a picture of a Saint on another wall.

Then my eye caught the father's den where he had his bookshelves.  And as I perused his books I saw books about economics, planning your financial future, how to be successful with your money.

But right next to these books about money I saw the Catechism, the Bible, books about the Catholic faith, Jesus and the Saints. 

And it became apparent to me that this family's relationship with Jesus formed their attitudes toward their material goods.  It makes perfect sense that they would extend their generosity to the teens immediately after an hour of Eucharistic Adoration.  An hour in which we looked upon the ultimate example of generosity: Jesus' total gift of self in the Eucharist.

We often ask ourselves this question: "What is the meaning of life?"  I won't claim to have the answer completely, but I think it's something close to this: our lives only have meaning to the extent that we give of ourselves to others.  At the Second Vatican Council, the Church put it another way in the document Gaudium et Spes.  It says that "man only discovers himself, by making a sincere gift of himself," imitating Jesus' total gift of Himself to us in the Eucharist.

In a few moments, we will receive this gift again when Jesus Himself says, "This is My Body... this is My Blood... given up for you."  And as we receive this gift, we should ask ourselves: "How is Jesus calling me to make a gift of myself?  How do I use the blessings He's given me?  Do my possessions and my wealth drive me to be aggressively self-centered?  Or, do they inspire me to imitate Christ and be aggressively self-giving?"

1 comment:

  1. Fr. Andy (can I call you that?),

    I LOVE this. Thanks so much for sharing. I'll be following you!