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Gospel for Sunday, July 31 Luke 12: 13-21

XVIII Sunday C

13One of the crowd said to him: “Master, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14But he replied: “O man, who made me judge or mediator over you?” 15And he said to them: “Beware and keep away from all greed, because even if someone is in abundance, his life does not depend on his possessions.” 16He then said a parable: “The countryside of a rich man had produced a good harvest. 17He reasoned within himself: What will I do, since I have nowhere to store my crops? 18And he said: I will do this: I will demolish my warehouses and build larger ones and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19Then I will say to myself: My soul, you have many goods at your disposal, for many years; rest, eat, drink and be merry. 20But God said to him: Fool, this very night your life will be required of you. And who will the one you have prepared belong to? 21So it is with those who accumulate treasures for themselves, and do not become rich before God.”

Luke 12: 13-21

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it).

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

GOD LISTENS TO THE CRY OF THE POOR

The God of the Bible has a characteristic, a peculiarity, I would almost say a “dot”: a predilection for the poor. Israel has understood this from the beginning of its history, when, in Egypt, God “listens to the cry of Israel” (Ex 2.24), “observes the misery of his people and hears their cry…, knows the his sufferings… and comes down to free him” (Ex 3,7-8).

In the Bible there is a real “theology of the cry (seaqà) of the poor”: the complaint of the oppressed always reaches God and is heard by him; in fact “the prayer of the poor goes in the ears of God, his judgment will come in his favor” (Sir 21,5).

God hears the cry of the last of the earth: “This poor man cries out and the Lord hears him and frees him from all his anguish” (Ps 34,7.18; 12,6; 102,18). However, God not only always welcomes the cry of those in difficulty, but also brings justice to the oppressed, harshly punishing his persecutors (Ex 22,21-23; cf. Dt 24,14-15; Ml 3,5; Ps 9 ; 76,10…). The theology of God’s vengeance against oppressors is not an obscure Old Testament legacy, but is also forcefully present in the New Testament: “The wages you have defrauded the workers… cry out; and the protests of the reapers reached the ears of the Lord of hosts… You were fattened for the day of slaughter” (Jas 5:4-5).

God the avenger of the poor is a concept too often forgotten, but it is a revealed Word: it sustains hope when one is in desolation (think of the strength this “Joyful News” has given and continues to give to many poor people, for example in the various “theologies of liberation”…); and it instills holy fear in believers when they too often forget about others, do not share their goods, do not worry about a global economic disorder that makes some of them increasingly richer and the others increasingly poorer…

THE JUDGMENT OF JESUS ON RICHES

Jesus, on the topic of riches, announces a shocking message that certainly scandalized his contemporaries and which continues to disturb us today. Even if earthly goods are good, their hoarding is heavily condemned by Jesus, as stated in today’s Gospel (Lk 12,13-21). Jesus defines wealth as “dishonest”, “unjust”, “ò àdikos mamonàs” (Lk 16,11). Wealth is unjust because, says Jesus, it is always “other people’s wealth”, it is the accumulation of goods that should instead be shared, co-participated (Lk 16,12). Riches are goods of which we become “dishonest stewards” (Lk 16,1-15).

Jesus then takes up the “Woe!” prophetic against the rich: “Woe to you, you rich people, for you already have your consolation. Woe to you who are full, for you will be hungry” (Luke 6:24-25). Jesus considers them as excluded from the Kingdom simply because they possess goods. The parable of the rich man and the poor Lazarus is disconcerting (Lk 16,19-31), in which Jesus places the rich man in hell only because of the abundance of his goods, and Lazarus “in Abraham’s bosom” only because he is poor on earth , regardless of their internal dispositions. The text speaks of a true retaliation: “Abraham replied (to the rich man): «Son, remember that you received your goods during your life and Lazarus likewise his evils; but now he is comforted and you are in torment” (Lk 16:25).

In the so-called passage “of the rich young man” (Mk 10,17-27), the Master announces the great difficulty of the salvation of the rich. “The disciples were amazed at his words”: but Jesus continues with the famous example of the camel that had to pass through the eye of a needle (Mk 10.24-25). But “they, even more astonished, said to each other: “And who can be saved?” (Mk 10:26). It is the trauma of the first Church, which sometimes proposed softer textual variants: such as that of verse 23 which transformed the “rich” into “those who trust in riches” (“confidentes in pecuniis”), thus replacing the command to share one’s goods a simple invitation not to be too internally attached to them; or the one who put, in verse 25, “gomena” (kàmilos) instead of “camel” (kàmelos), so as not to make it impossible for the rich to enter Paradise.

We must welcome this Word of life, allowing ourselves to be amazed and provoked by it, as the disciples did, without immediately taking refuge in the mercy of God that Jesus also announces in this situation: “Impossible with men, but not with God! Because everything is possible with God!” (Mk 10.27). But “Jesus does not mean that, in the end, God will open the doors of the kingdom even to those who have the heart of the rich. He means that God can also give the rich a poor heart” (E. Bartolucci).

THE POOR WILL BE OUR JUDGES IN HEAVEN

The “entrance exam” to enter Paradise will focus on a single question: we will have given food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, welcome to immigrants, clothes to the naked, care for the sick, solidarity with prisoners (Mt 25, 31-46)?

Not only does Christ identify himself with the poor, but they will be our judges: they will be the ones who will welcome us into the Kingdom or not. Jesus states: “Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that… they may welcome you into eternal homes” (Lk 16:9).

POVERTY, A VOCATION FOR ALL

Sharing with the poor is an indispensable consequence of love for God and brothers (Lk 10,29-37). It is above all up to us lay people, who constitute the vast majority of the Lord’s disciples, to reflect on this call, which for too long has been relegated and preached as exclusive to religious people. By limiting the obligation to share with the poor to some specific vocations, the Word of God has been mutilated, and indeed we Western Christians have become the main ones responsible for global misery and the perverse economic mechanisms that determine it.

But it is not enough to be moved by the poor. We must also develop the ability to grasp the profound causes of poverty, to recognize the structural roots of injustice, of an economy that only cares about profit and tramples people. And we also need to concretely convert our lifestyle: lead a more sober life, have less, afford fewer things, actually live according to standards different from the current ones, which see happiness in the possession of many goods. And in this sense, become trainers of the new generations, and above all of our children, educating them about solidarity, globality, hospitality, service, and association with the poor and the suffering.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at migliettacarlo@gmail.com.

Source

Spazio Spadoni

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