July 31, 2022 – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/073122.cfm)
According to the recent study of OXFAM International, an independent non-governmental organizations, a new billionaire is created during this pandemic in a span of 30 hours only. There are at least new 573 people who have just become billionaires because of this pandemic. Wow! This sounds so promising and encouraging, isn’t it? However, behind these a few hundred billionaires, OXFAM also said that because of this, there is an expected 263 million people who will crash into extreme poverty, at a rate of 1 million people in every 33 hours because of Covid-19, of rising global inequality and the shock of food prices supercharges by the war in Ukraine. As a result, it is projected that the number of undernourished people in the world could reach to 827 million this year, 2022.
The world, indeed, has so much wealth and resources even during this pandemic for all of us but then, it seems that only few are possessing and benefitting them in an extravagant and outrageous way. This shows how inequality in our society greatly bring suffering to many and of the vanity that the few elite group enjoy.
To possess material wealth is, in fact, not in itself evil. Material wealth is God’s gift to us. However, material wealth becomes a problem if we would allow this to possess us. We might believe that to possess so much wealth will give us security and joy. Nevertheless, this is not the case because the more we possess things, the more we also become insecure and anxious. Just observe ourselves. The more a person possesses wealth, the more the person also becomes defensive. High walls are built to protect a rich house, sometimes with electric current running 24/7 on barb wires and with a 24-hour security personnel and CCTV all around the property. And when the person becomes unaware of his/her unquenchable desire to possess more, then the heart turns greedy and insecure, and even corrupt and oppressive.
Our readings this Sunday have something to tell us about this. The Lord invites us to examine our attitudes towards our material wealth, the resources that we have gained and received, the riches that we possessed vis-à-vis the relationship we have with one another.
Thus, even though we may not be part of the group of billionaires in the world, but then, the possessions that we have may could also possess us. These may prevent us from being grateful to the source of blessings and generous to those who are in need. Let us explore then, our readings and see how God unfolds his invitations for us today.
The author of the Book of Ecclesiastes tells us that what we possess now and our worldly achievements could not really guarantee satisfaction to our inner desires. Qohelet says, “Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” Indeed, everything will be in vain when we become too focused on material possessions and when our heart becomes materialistic. With this attitude, we will lose the essential things in life and that include our relationships.
Hence, the very situation of the man in the Gospel would remind us of a common dispute among siblings even today. Families are being divided and wounds of hatred and resentment would overwhelm them because of wealth or properties left behind by their parents. Sometimes this hatred and resentment would even reach the courts, in legal disputes over inheritance claims and even up to violence and killings among family members.
This is how the cycle of corruption and oppression happens. When our desire becomes unsatisfiable, we become greedy of many things, who will tend to collect as many material things and wealth us much as possible.
Well, such attitude will not just appear in our heart out of nowhere. Sometimes, this has something also to do with our childhood memories. A child who has been deprived from many things particularly of essential things in the child’s development such us food, shelter, toys and clothing and even affection and love from parents may become a form of emptiness in the heart of a child. When the child becomes adult, that kind of experience could give the person the anxiety to be deprived again. Hence, in order to gratify such anxiety the person could become a hoarder who accumulate things and possessions.
When this happens too, a hoarder or a greedy person is blinded to see the needs of others. It will be difficult for the person to open up and be generous to those who are in need around him or her because the person feels insecure every time he or she gives. The person would only look at his/herself and never to others. This is an attitude of the heart that is truly being possessed by possessions.
Be mindful, then, of our possessive attitudes because these may affect and endanger our relationships with our families, friends and colleagues.
We may ask, what is it that possessed me? What are those that kept me from being free? We do not have to think of millions of pesos because even a single smartphone may possess us. Remember, when we put so much focus and attention to a material thing, it could make us indifferent, ungenerous and unkind towards others. Our attachment to a single smartphone may indeed, prevent us from giving more time, attention and focus towards our studies (for the students), or may prevent us from giving our affection and presence to our loved ones. Or, our obsession and anxiety to succeed in our careers or business may also prevent us from spending quality time and presence with our loved ones, with your children or spouse to the point that you have no more time for them.
We believe that what gives us true satisfaction, freedom, joy and contentment is a life with God. Jesus calls today to have a life with Him and to slowly let go of whatever that possessed us because this is the way of making ourselves free for Jesus and free for others. Then, by being free for Jesus, we shall be able to let ourselves be satisfied truly by the Lord himself. In response, our self-satisfaction from the Lord will lead us to recognize that everything we have is God’s blessing that must be joyfully and generously shared to others. Kabay pa.