18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
"You can’t take it with you when you die" is an evident teaching of the readings today. Money and possessions are necessary – we have to feed and cloth ourselves and our children, we have to repair the Church building we have to run hospitals. Money and possessions can bring some security and happiness – but only in this life. So don’t put too much trust in them, don’t exaggerate their importance – don’t make them your God. They cannot save you and they will always come to an end.
There is a more profound teaching here too. It is found in Our Saviour’s response to the man who wants him to sort out a family dispute about money. "who made me your judge or the arbitrator of your claims" The way in which our Saviour reveals divine love, the way in which he saves us and continues to do so through his body the Church is not by providing a precise solution for every problem or injustice or difficulty we may face, either at the personal or the social level.
On the other hand Our Lord and following him the Church does not, as some suggest, provide general principles or ideals for us to apply in concrete situations. No. Jesus and his body the Church offers one definite, practical, utterly clear principle. Each of must have a personal relationship with Jesus. We must know him and love him. Our Lord emphasises this again and again in the Gospels. "I am the vine you are the branches", "Follow me", "make your home in me as I make mine in you", "Father may they be one in us as you are in me and I am in you", "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him".
This is the content of St Paul’s teaching in the 2nd reading. "You have been brought back to true life with Christ – you have died and the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. There is only one Christ and he is everything and in everything.
Only in and with Christ do we have life which is eternal and it is that union with Christ which enables us to judge prudently and wisely the material things of this earth and make the necessary judgements in particular situations.
How do we know that we have this relationship with Christ? Well first the 10 commandments, do we know them, do we keep them? Then the sacraments – are we baptised and confirmed? If we are then do we make full use of Confession, do we at the very least once a year, make a good and holy communion? Then does the grace we receive in the Sacraments flow into our daily lives so that those who see us, listen to us, work with us catch a glimpse of Christ and a Christ like life?
Other signs would be an immediate and genuine sorrow when we sin. A firm purpose of amendment and a desire to ask the Lord for forgiveness in confession. A desire to adore the Lord, to visit him in the Blessed Sacrament and receive him in Holy Communion as often as possible. A desire to pray regularly partly because without prayer we notice how the relationship dies, how we stop being sorry for sin, how we stop thinking things are sins, how we lose the desire to visit the Lord – but also because we find prayer at times a pleasure and a joy.
When this relationship is present it becomes possible to judge the real value of things and to understand what brings happiness and life.