Homily – August 1

Maybe I’m dating myself but do you remember the movie Alfie and its theme song, ‘what’s it all about Alfie’? It’s a bit like the theme of our first reading, ‘what’s it all about, what do get for all our toil, for all our efforts, for all our blood sweat and tears, for all our sleepless nights? We leave it all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. It doesn’t make sense. It’s just not fair but its life.’
The theme of our first reading is that what is is and very soon will not be. The author is not trying to throw a bucket of cold water on us, he just wants to remind us that life is short and we should ever be conscious of a life beyond what we see and know. This isn’t all there is.
Today’s Gospel needs very little explanation. We all might be looking for the loopholes, but there aren’t any. What do we not understand in these words of Jesus? “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life, one’s worth does not consist in the abundance of possession.”
The man in the gospel is not an evil man. The parable does not say that he will not receive eternal life with God in heaven. The parable is meant to remind us all that life is short and fragile and what matters to God has to do with God’s becoming bigger within the living of own lives. That happens when we are willing to share the good things we have with those who have less. We all know, it’s not what we have that is important, it’s what we do with what we have that matters. Someone wrote these powerful words: “Nobody gets into heaven without a letter of reference from the poor.” He’s right. If Jesus is to be believed, then we need to believe that the poor stand before us always as that place where we are judged. We get to heaven (or don’t) on the basis of our response to the poor. Remember Matthew’s description of how our lives will be judged; I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was naked and you clothed me, sick and in prison and you came to visit – as often as you did these things to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did them to me – take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. In other words, if you were there for me then I am here for you.
We are really a blessed people, living in a blessed land. The poorest among us live like kings compared to the poor in other lands where words like ‘health care, family allowance, minimum wage, welfare’ are just not part of their vocabularies. We are rich toward God when we are rich toward the poor.
You good people have always been generous to any and every appeal we’ve ever made. You were awesome in your response to our Haitian appeal for Fr. Rick Frechette and we’ve surpassed lasts years total for Share Life.
Today’s scripture just wants us to keep things in perspective.
There is an old saying, “You can’t take it with you, except the things you gave away.” If death were on its way to us this very night, what would we take to God? What Jesus asks of us is simply that we see the poor, that we do not let affluence become a narcotic that blocks them out our eyesight. Riches aren’t bad and poverty isn’t beautiful. But, nobody gets to heaven without a letter of reference from the poor.