Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Saint Patrick Parish
July 30/31, 2016
There has been a lot of bad news lately. Terror attacks, death, uncertainty in the recent day and weeks seems to have multiplied. If you're like me, you try and avoid it a little for fear that it might become too much. It was, however, personally impossible to ignore the recent killing of a priest while he celebrated Mass. The world may seem like it is in chaos, and probably growing worse every day.
The longer I have looked at it, prayed about it, and studied it; it seems that the world focuses on two things: fear and emptiness. I encourage you to test this idea, see if you find it true in your lives. The idea is that the world, and the things of the world, leave us afraid, fearful of being hurt, fearful of being taken advantage of, fearful of losing our stuff, our good name, our pride. In this way, the world leaves us afraid of others. This fear of others leaves us empty, always searching to fill this void within us with something, anything. The world leaves us constantly searching for meaning, for love, for comfort from the fear or worse yet it leaves us without hope of that emptiness ever being filled. The world it seems leaves us feeling afraid and empty. In short, the world says to us “build bigger barns” take your stuff, all of that which you try to fill that void within you and keep it safe behind strong walls. Build bigger barns, the world says, isolate yourself behind walls and find a fleeting sense of comfort in material things The rich man in our Gospel built bigger barns, larger structures to keep his stuff his and others out. We know, however, that that man was a fool, as soon as he tore down his perfectly good barns and built bigger ones God tells him that he is going to die. Not only is he going to die but in all likelihood, he is going to die alone. Our Gospel makes it seem that he has no one to share his riches with - he only talks about himself and the question is asked of him “who will enjoy all these good things once you are gone?” How lonely and empty that man must have felt? There all alone, afraid of his mortality and having wasted his remaining energy building barns that hold everything he cannot take with him.
|‘You fool, |
this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared,
to whom will they belong?’
The world says 'build bigger barns', but I say the answer is to build bigger hearts. Build bigger hearts and become more like these children we are about to baptize, live by their innocent witness to the power that Christ can have in our lives if we recognize that we are all like children before our Almighty Father in heaven.
Now there is a rather profound theological concept that I’d like to share with you all: it’s the distinction, the difference, between the I and the me. The me is that worldly part of us that is attracted to the fear and the emptiness. The me is always trying to do more for the me, me, me , me - trying to satisfy itself, trying to comfort itself. The I is the part of us that God draws to himself, the part of us that is the child of God. The I may fear, but it never gives into that fear, for the I knows that it can find comfort and satisfaction in God. With God the I is not empty, the I is not a slave to fear.
|'Love' by Alexander Milov|
I placed out in the gathering space a picture of a sculpture and below it I have written ‘build bigger hearts.’ Many of you walked right past it, but I encourage you, as you are leaving, to take a good look at that sculpture because I believe it helps to clarify this idea of the I and the me. The main part of the sculpture is two wire figures, sitting back to back, and the viewer gets the sense that these two people are in an argument, but they are fed up with one another. They are back to back but world’s apart. These figures signify the me; this is the part of us that is in constant competition with one another and because of this they remain fearful and empty. Inside these wire figures, however, are solid figures of children, and these children are trying to reach out to the other, but the wire figures prevent them from reaching one another. These children are the I, the child of God that calls out from each of us to be in communion with one another and with God.
The world will tell us that it is foolish to live as a child of God, to live out of the I, but isn’t that just the kind of fear that the world throws at us? I say you are going to be a fool either way, either a fool of the world, the kind of fool that builds bigger barns, or a fool for Christ, the kind of fool that builds bigger hearts. You may be asking: ‘how do I build a bigger heart?’ I cannot answer that because it is not something as simple as giving more money, or volunteering more - a person who builds a bigger heart will want to do that naturally. Instead, I leave it up to you. What does your heart say? What does the inner child of God say you should do to build a bigger heart? I want you to listen to that voice, listen to what your heart has to tell you and join me in building bigger hearts by being fools for Christ.