‘Being rich in what matters to God’ – Essential!

The following homily was given by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde at the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More in Arlington.

What does "being rich in what matters to God" really mean? After all, that is the lesson which the Lord Jesus is teaching us today through the parable about the rich greedy farmer, proclaimed in our gospel passage. What matters to God is our true happiness, that is, possessing the only treasure that will satisfy our longing lonely hearts. And that treasure is not some thing or things, but, rather a Person - God Himself made visible in Jesus Christ His Only Son and our Savior. What matters to God is our salvation!

Of course, we have heard this teaching - this fundamental truth - many times already, have we not? But as intelligent as we are, as experienced as we think we are, we remain so slow to learn especially when it comes to our journey in faith, our spiritual life!

I remember a line from a poem which we studied in seminary. The poet was not famous, but this particular line imbedded itself in my memory: "The things that mattered most have mattered least." Is not that what Qoheleth tells us in today's first reading: "Vanity of vanities …. All things are vanity." Yes, possessions, honest hard work, earning a living, etc.: these each have a role to play in our lives, but in none of these is our salvation, our fundamental well-being. Salvation comes only from the Savior-God through a deeply personal and intimate bond with Him!

However, so much of what the culture says is radically different from what Jesus is telling us. And, we are influenced by the culture and by the residue in us of original sin. The Evil One has a way of making what is not for our ultimate good appear very good and pleasing. After all, he is the father of deception!

So, we need to be reminded over and over that what matters to God, where we would be truly rich, is living in a deeply personal, intimate and ever-increasing relationship of love with Him in Jesus Christ. Did not Jesus tell us: "Where your treasure is, there will be your heart"? If the Lord is our treasure, then our heart will be with Him.

This is why Saint Paul reminds us in today's second reading: "… If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God" - and I add, interceding for us! Saint Paul continues: "Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." We indeed died with Christ in Baptism and rose with Him likewise. In that rebirth, we become a new creature, sons and daughters of God. Again, Saint Paul: "… you have taken off the old self with its practices and put on the new self, which is being renewed … in the image of its creator." So, then, we are to live in a new way, in conformity to our new status; we are to live differently, loving God and loving others, especially those entrusted to us!

In this way, we possess the treasure that will satisfy our longing lonely hearts; in this way, we are rich in what matters to God.

And when we are rich in what matters to God, are we not then experiencing the joy of the Gospel to which Pope Francis unceasingly refers? When we are rich in what matters to God, are we not experiencing God's mercy, revealed in the face of Jesus Christ? That mercy, the objective and goal of this Year of Mercy: that mercy is ours to experience realistically and ours to pass on enthusiastically, as we seek to live out our God-given vocations.

Yes, the teaching which Jesus gives us today is so fundamentally necessary for our salvation. No wonder the Psalm Refrain is so instructive: "If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts." We have heard His Voice clearly! Let us open our hearts, that we may even more fully become rich in what matters to God - and should matter to us!

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016