Last night, for some reason my homily did not get down to the church. I was looking for it, but could not find it. So I said: “I cannot find my homily.” – Somebody in the congregation clapped. Well, everybody started laughing at that, including me.
So I figure God wanted me to talk about something else and that was just part of the process. The gospel story was not what I was going to preach on this weekend, but since I cannot find what else I had, I guess I had to turn to here.
Jesus said: “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God.” Yikes. We look at our country and we are a very wealthy country. We look at our own situation and, compared to some people in the world, every one of us is rich. Every one of us has far more, probably, than we need.
Does that mean there is no salvation for us? Jesus responded to the question, “then who can be saved?” by looking at the disciples and saying: “for human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”
Now that should be a consolation, but it is also a very dire warning, because we could find ourselves thinking “God is going to take care of it and I do not have to worry about my attitude toward my own riches, toward my own wealth, toward my own status, I can be exactly what I want to be, and it does not matter.” Yes, it does.
It does not mean that we need to be poor, it does not mean that we need to remove everything from us that God has given. But, to think that the blessings we have in this life are signs of God’s approval… is a mistake. And there are a lot of people who preach that idea. It is sometimes called the “prosperity gospel” or the “name it and claim it gospel” – “things are good in your life. And if things are not good in your life, well, that means your faith is not strong enough!” What a mess.
But God calls us to a different kind of understanding of poverty. A different type of life that gives back to him. It is possible. In fact it has been shown that people who have a lot of money but are still filled with faith are able to use that; maintaining it, but use that to attract other people of like minds or like situations. It is kind of hard for someone who is poor to convince someone who is rich to turn their lives to Christ.
Now, it is not easy when we have all the things we want to keep our eyes fixed on Christ. When our life is comfortable we want to walk away from God. We see that in our world around us right now. We see that because of the people that we know who have said “I do not need to go to church.”
I would suggest to you that the primary reason is because they are too comfortable with their lives and they do not see a need to find God in their lives.
So how do we speak to them? How do we tell them “you are not listening!”? I do not know. Our life, our example has to be, for them, the only thing that draws them. This rich young man had Jesus he could look to. Who do they have, but us? And do we give them enough of an example that they will follow; that they will say “I will look into this because of you. I will seek faith because I see it in you!”
Lord Jesus, you have given each of us a huge amount of blessings. Help us not to waste those blessings. Help us to be witnesses, instead, to your glory, to be witnesses to your life in us. Help us to be faithful to the commandments, but more so, help us to be faithful to you in everything we say and do.
Turn our hearts from the darkness of this world. Help us to be the light that others need to see. Help us to be conformed to your will and long to receive the blessings you have promised that we may share, with the world, all that is good. Amen.