Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”
Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’
But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
I don’t want to be like the rich man, but I am. Instead of barns, I’ve dreamt of a larger pantry, a bigger home. I come from a place of privilege. Some of the things I have, I need. Most of them, I don’t.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with stuff. St. Ignatius reminds us that all things of this world are gifts of God. Yet, the First Principle and Foundation (paraphrased by David Fleming), goes on to caution us, “if any of these gifts become the center of our lives, they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal.”
Which gifts contribute to my further development as a loving person, fully alive?
Is anything displacing God as the goal of my life?
My quest to accumulate material goods, achievements, status, and friends, has, at times, become my primary goal. This parable challenges me to make space for what matters truly matters to me, which is also what matters to God.
—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division; she serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House and the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections.
Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me.
—First Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius of Loyola, as paraphrased by David L. Fleming, SJ