23 October. Monday, Week 29

Saint John of Capistrano, priest (opt. mem.)

1st Reading: Romans 4:20-25

Like Abraham, our faith will be credited to us by God

No distrust made Abraham waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

Gospel: Luke 12:13-21

Jesus warns against greed in all its forms

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “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.”


And for what I have failed to do.

While the Bible declares the justifying power of faith, it does not undermine the value of good works, as though nothing were needed but to believe and to pray. We have the powerful example of Jesus himself, who went about doing good, preaching, healing, listening, defending, encouraging, supporting the poor. If faith could flourish without commitment to good works, what can we make of prophets like Isaiah, who preached a strong message of faith-flourishing-through-justice?

Paul’s favourite biblical guide was Isaiah, who wrote the stirring, almost untranslatable couplet: Unless your faith is firm, You shall not be affirmed (Isa 7:9). This same Isaiah laid equal stress upon good works. Condemning Israel’s liturgy as sterile and useless, he called for behavioural conversion : Make justice your aim: redress the wrongs, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow (Isa 1:16,23).

The gospel mentions faults of omission of which seemingly good, rich people are often guilty. They can be so tenacious about keeping and holding for themselves what they have amassed as private property. They base their security on wealth and respectability. About this tendency, which exists in most of us, Jesus warns : “Avoid greed in all its forms.” Possessions do not guarantee life. Do not live a selfish wealthy life, instead of growing rich in the sight of the Lord.

Inheritance and greed

Dividing an inheritance can be very disruptive within a family. All too often family members have been known to argue over wills to the point of ceasing to talk to each other. In the gospel Jesus is unwilling to get involved with a family dispute over inheritance. Instead, he takes the opportunity to talk about the dangers of greed of any kind, and he illustrates this teaching with a parable about possessions.

The main character in the parable is a farmer who has had a wonderful harvest, but still is not happy. He immediately begins worrying about how to store all of his surplus grain. He begins to be happy when he builds himself bigger barns to store all his extra grain and his other goods. But just as he begins to feel secure, having built all his extra storage, he dies; he was storing a fortune for himself to secure his life, but it turned out to be a false security. Jesus wants us to find our security not in storing up for ourselves like misers but in growing rich in the sight of God. This would require that we empty ourselves as Jesus did so that others might become rich. The message of the Scriptures is that God is our rock, our refuge, our security. If God is our security, it sets us free to give generously of what we have been given, after the example of Jesus.

Saint John of Capistrano, priest

Giovanni of Capestrano (1386-1456) was a Franciscan friar from the Abruzzo, Italy. An active preacher, theologian, and inquisitor, he earned himself the nickname “Soldier Saint” when aged 70 he led a crusade against the invading Ottoman Empire at the siege of Belgrade. He died later that year in Villach, Austria.

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