Homily by Fr. Paul Plante
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 4, 2013
Scriptural Reference: Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23
I am sure most of us have heard of the seven Capital Sins or the seven Deadly Sins as these are often called. The major sinful directions that are to be avoided, sins that can do a job on our spiritual lives.
Just as a reminder these sins are: lust, avarice, greed, envy, pride, sloth, gluttony and anger. All of the above are at the root of basically all that is evil, all that is sinful and therefore if we detect any of the above developing in us, it should be a warning, a red flag, a tendency to combat aggressively.
All of this introduction to connect with two of today’s scripture readings.
In Ecclesiastes the wise man, Qoheleth warns us that all the toil we have put into accumulating worldly goods can abruptly come to an end.
But it is the warning of Jesus in today’s Gospel that is so explicit, reminding us of the danger of greed. “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
A preliminary reflection on Jesus words: Yes he says to beware of greed, but then says one’s life does not consist of possessions. The evil comes in when one’s life consists of possessions. One person could be very rich and very generous and detached from his/her possessions. In that case, that person’s life does not consist of possessions. Actually in this case, one’s life consists of assisting others with one’s possessions. This person is putting others needs first – his possessions are not just for him – they are for the good of others. And that is what caring, charity, love of neighbor is all about.
All of the capital sins are about selfishness, making all things benefit just oneself – anger, lust, jealousy, laziness, greed – all about satisfying self rather than thinking of the good of others.
It is easy, especially here in America to convince ourselves that we are not greedy because we can so easily point towards those who have so much more - whoever they are, they have to reckon with God – it takes some of us off the hook. We are being greedy when we judge that this is something others should do; this is a case where others should be generous.
The virtuous thing to do is to look at our situation in relation to the need, more specifically to those in need – do we love enough to help, even if it is only a little bit? Are we able to step on our selfishness in order to reach out?
I think we also give in to greed when we are only ready to be generous if it is a need that is right close to us, people we know, our parish, our family. Real virtue reaches out way beyond.
May we ask God to help us stamp out all traces of greed in our lives. It is a capital sin that puts us in a little prison of selfishness.