Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (August 4, 2019)
In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us of how unhealthy it is to make our material successes and pleasures the first priority in our life. St. Francis de Sales tells us how to redirect these loves in a way that makes us “rich in what matters to God”:
We never seem to have enough to satiate our desires. Yet we know that the riches and goods of the world are powerful allurements that can dissipate our heart if we have an inordinate attachment to them. Moreover, the care needed to preserve and increase our material possessions can deplete our energy. Yet, I would like to instill in your heart both wealth and poverty together. Take care to increase your wealth and resources, but in a manner that is just, proper and charitable. You ought to have greater and finer care than worldly people do to make your property profitable and fruitful.
Nothing makes us so prosperous in this world as giving alms to the poor. God will repay us, not only in the next world, but even in this one. Our possessions are not our own. They are a gift from God, who desires that we cultivate and make them fruitful and profitable for the reign of God among us.
When we labor for a worldly good out of God’s peaceful love, the care in our labor is calm, amiable, and agreeable. This easy and gentle way leads us to divine love. Divine love never says enough is sufficient. Holy love desires to have the courage always to progress on the way of true happiness. You can possess material riches without being poisoned by them if you merely keep them in your home and purse, and not in your heart. In this way we live a poverty of spirit in the midst of riches. So rather than be captive to earthly goods, let your human spirit that is bound for heaven migrate to the goodness of God, who enlightens and makes whole the human heart that is open to divine love.
(Adapted from the writing of Saint Francis de Sales)