Seek what is above

July 31, 2022

Today’s parable about storing large amounts of grain for the future recalls the story of Joseph and the pharaoh in ancient Egypt (Genesis 41). Where Joseph is praised for his wisdom to store up grain for the seven lean years to come, today’s rich man is criticized for what sounds like the same thing. How come? The fundamental difference is in the purpose of these people’s actions. Joseph, interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, advised the entire country to store grain during years of plenty so that people all over the country, and indeed the wider region, from the wealthy to the penniless, would not starve during the years of famine. The greedy rich man, however, only stored his harvest so that he himself could live off of it for years, so he could do nothing but “rest, eat, drink, and be merry!” (Luke 12:19). Joseph saved hundreds of thousands of people with the stored grain across the country. The rich fool only wanted to save himself. And he failed. We try to control our life in every way. We take care of our bodies to ensure our good health. We take care of our possessions to enjoy our success. We take care of our assets so that we can afford a house, or our children’s education, or our retirement. We tend to labor under the illusion that we can control our future. Financial success reinforces that illusion. What we hoard can be lost in a heartbeat. What we give away will go on. In a consumer-oriented society such as ours, the lesson from today’s readings is countercultural. We are challenged to reject the idea that money brings happiness or at least makes it easier to achieve. We are encouraged to build wealth instead in what matters to God. As Paul says, “seek what is above” (Colossians 3:1). Amen. (Casey, Most Reverend   Robert G. Pastoral Patterns. World Library  Publication, 2022)

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