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This Sunday's Programme

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18th Sunday C

Sunday 31st July 2022

The Gospel Paraphrased

There are many fine translations of the Gospels readily available. This paraphrase is not meant to replace them. Rather the intention here is to offer a more contemporary rendering so that you can imaginatively translate the Gospel in your own situation.

This Sunday's Gospel Paraphrased

Lk 12:13-21

When Jesus was telling the crowds of the coming persecution of his followers and their need to trust in God, a man in the crowd cried out to Jesus, ‘Master, tell my brother to divide our inheritance with me!’ Jesus replied, ‘Listen, man, who made me a judge or the arbitrator of your claim?’ Jesus then went on, ‘Be careful, be on guard against the greed that is never content. A person’s life does not get its security from what a person owns, even if there is an over-abundance.”’ Jesus then told them this parable, ‘A rich man’s land gave a fantastic harvest. He wondered to himself, “What shall I do? I have nowhere to store this great harvest.” Then he said, “I know what I’ll do. I’ll pull down my barns and build even bigger ones to store all harvest and goods in them. Then, I’ll say to myself, ‘Man, you’ve got it made. All that stuff! Take it easy, eat, drink, have a good time.’”
But God said to him, ‘You idiot. This night your soul will be demanded. All this wealth of yours, whose then will it be?’”
It will be just like that for the person who amasses treasure for him or herself and is not rich towards God.’

Psalm

The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 89:3-6, 12-14, 17

You crush mortals to dust,
saying, ‘Go back, children of humanity.’
A thousand years in your sight,
are like yesterday, past,
gone like a watch in the night.

You sweep people away like a flood,
like sleep passing in the night.
They are like grass as it grows: in the morning it sprouts and flourishes,
in the evening, cut down and withered.

Teach us how to number our days
that we might apply our hearts to wisdom.
Come back to us, O God!
When will you comfort your servants?

In the morning fill us with your kindness,
that we might rejoice and be glad all our lives.
Let the beauty of God be upon us
that we may be formed as the work of your hands.

Prayers

Words cannot contain our desire for God but they help direct our minds and hearts towards God's love and express our needs.

This Sunday's Prayer

Loving Father, you have filled my life with many good things. Let me know that I have only truly received them from you, when I use them for the service of others. Let me realise that when I live this way I allow your love and life to flourish in my life. I ask this in Jesus’ name confident that you will hear me.

The Commentaries Summarised

As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.

This Sunday's Commentary

Knowing the context for this reading is crucial for its understanding. Jesus had been addressing a large crowd concerning the coming persecution of his followers. These persecutions, he warns, could be so fierce that they may even face death. But they are not to fear but place their trust in God. Into that inspiring address, comes the demand by a man for Jesus to play the judge within a family dispute over inheritance. This man, in his very inopportune demand, exemplifies the very blindness that avarice can bring about in people. The term ‘pleonexia’ describes a greed that always seeks more and more possessions. Indeed, this vice so consumes people that they place their trust in what they own and not in God, the giver of life. Following on from this reading is the beautiful passage that offers us the example of the birds of the sky and the flowers of the field that are utterly reliant on God: if God cares for them, how much more for us.

Jesus tells a parable, frightening in its truthfulness to life. A man, already rich, amasses even greater riches after a successful harvest. With this abundance, he only looks after himself: his food, his drink, his ease. But when his life ends abruptly, what good are these things to him? The final phrase of the reading gives the clue as to what he should have done with this abundance. ‘Being rich towards God’ in the Lukan narrative means caring for the poor and those in need. The man’s response to the abundant harvest should have been, ‘I already have enough. How can I serve with this abundance with which that God has endowed me?’ This Gospel starkly pulls us up and forces us to ask the questions: how much do I truly need and am I conducting myself ‘richly towards God’.

Exposition

Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.

This Sunday's Exposition

My grandparents did it tough. Dad’s first memory is of his mother putting wadding around the boils on his father’s shoulder so he could carry the hod at his bricklaying job. That was during the Depression. Years later they suffered eviction. Nanny was put on the streets with the children and their little furniture, while Poppy wasn’t home. My other grandmother heard and took them to a house she had and let them stay rent free till they got on their feet…they did and they eventually owned a small, fibro house, modest even by the standard of the time. I spent my childhood in and out of that house. It had an overwhelming sense of contentment there. Ironically, the land became prime real estate and they could have made a killing and moved on to something ‘bigger and better’ but they stayed put. They were content and focussed rather on being the wonderful grandparents and good neighbours that they were.

Jesus speaks in this Gospel about ‘avarice’ – the desire to have more and more and more. Indeed, in this Gospel, he speaks far more about the danger of possessions than he does about sex, drugs, gambling…which were around in his day. Why? Well, the abuse of the latter things is pretty obvious, while we have all sorts of justifications for allowing possessions to take hold of our lives. ‘Security’ is the primary one, which brings up the very point Jesus is making: we have no security except in God. And we only have security in God when we allow God’s love to flow through us…and you know what that means- using our possessions for the good of others.

Reflection

Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.

This Sunday's Reflection

What a clanger! Jesus is talking to the people about the persecution, even death that his followers will face for their beliefs, and this man demands, demands no less, that Jesus ensure that he gets his share of his inheritance. ‘Pleonexia’ does that to people. This is what Jesus says has warped his heart. ‘Pleonexia’ is the vice of avarice, the passion to have more and more. One of its effects is to blind people: to what they really need; to the needs of others; and to the true source of what they have, God. People infected by this go on wanting more and more things, bigger and better experiences, never finding contentment.

How’s your ‘pleonexia’ by the way? It takes a strong person not to be infected by this disease given the way Australian society operates at present. Ads constantly tell us to get ‘bigger and better’, or ‘smaller and faster’ (irrespective of our true needs). We watch so-called reality TV shows based of people competing in cooking more exotic food, building more glamorous living spaces. (What’s competition got to do with need?) Our economy is based on growth at all costs – and yet, in spite of a boom, we have failed to invest in the major infrastructures we really do need. Indeed, it seems that the only ‘respectable way’ to deal with excess money in our society is by gambling. By the way, Australia has the highest rate of gambling per head of population in the world. The next nation comes in at half our rate. Imagine if that money was spent of schools, hospitals, roads, rehabilitation of prisoners…and dare I say it, asylum seekers. ‘Pleonexia’ has blinded us to common sense.

At present, how often do you met at truly content person, one who has placed their trust in God and shares their excess generously with the needy? They are the exceptional people in our society and Jesus is inspiring us to join their ranks. When we have enough, we are called to be ‘rich’ towards God: we are to care for the needy. I finish with a line I read recently. ‘If you are not content with what you have, nothing you acquire will make you happy.’

Visual Meditation

Looking at art works or movies is a great way to open ourselves to the meaning of the Gospels. Seeing can bypass our preconceived notions, giving us new vistas of enlightenment. With painting or sculpture one needs to sit quietly and absorb the dynamics of the piece. The drama of movies more easily engages us and offers a way to conversation about the Gospel with other members of your family.

This Sunday's Visual Meditation

Art Works

  • Stone carvings which contrast Charity and Avarice. In the first carving, charity gives to those in need, while in the second Avarice locks away her good. (click red text)
  • The Seven Deadly Sins by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. (click red text)
  • Allegory of Avarice by Jacopo Ligozzi. (click red text)
  • Avarice by Jacob Matham. (click red text)
  • The Miser by Margret Hofheinz-Döring. (click red text)
  • The Rich Fool by James B. Janknegt. (click red text)

Movies

Mulling Meditation

The purpose of mulling meditations is to offer a few ideas that one can mull about while doing other occupations. There are many things we do in our day that do not require our full attention - some things which are largely done on automatic pilot - like driving a car or peeling the potatoes. While we give these our attention, part of our mind is still at work mulling on other things and unless it is given something positive to feed on, we easily feed on negative thoughts. Personally I find mulling time the most likely time for God to get through to me. Because I am not so conscious of myself, God gets through the cracks and opens my heart to look at life differently.
Two practical times for mulling can be when exercising and when driving. Some small preparations for integrating such prayer into these exercises can be helpful.

Exercising
As you do your preparatory stretches, pray the line of the Psalm "I praise you God for I am wonderfully made!"
Similarly when doing your concluding stretches use the prayer of St Clare "Praised be you, my God, for creating me!"

Driving
Have some music that you find helps you turn you mind and heart to God and play that for the first 10 minutes or so of your trip.

This Sunday's Mulling Meditation

As you go through this week, mull on how attached to are to the material possessions you have. Do you see them as ‘yours’ or as things gifted to you by God for you to share with others?

Mirror Meditation

In the Letter of James, we are told that the Scriptures are like a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In this type of meditation we take a piece of Scripture, hold it before us and consider what echoes within our heart. These echoes help us to see who we are before God and how we are loved. What usually echoes in us are situations that we are dealing with in our lives. When something strikes us, we do not actively try to solve the situation or work it through. Rather we sit holding it in God's love. The point of such a meditation is to make space within the situation for God's love to be. In 'sitting with' such a situation, painful or sad, we come to recognise the love of God that is at work on our lives. The suggestions for Mirror reflections can also be used for Exercise reflections but wouldn't be advised for Driving Prayer as often some degree of emotion or distraction might rise in such prayer.

This Sunday's Mirror Meditation

Rest in the love of your God.

Ponder on the gifts that you have received from God – gifts of family and character, gifts of relationships and material things. As you recall these gifts, affirm their goodness and thank God for them.

As you have thanked God, ask how you can share these gifts with the people around you and so strengthen the bonds within your family and community.

Rest in the love of your God.

Suggestions for the Programme

The elements of the programme can be used in any way that helps your prayer. The suggestions below are fairly simple ways of using this programme.

DAILY PRAYER

Become conscious of your God
Hymn or poem
Reading of Gospel text
Mulling over a reflection
Our Father
Prayer

Or

Become conscious of your God
Reading of Gospel text and reflection
Psalm
Our Father

PRAYER

Staff Prayer
The programme can also be used for Staff Prayer. How you may put together such a prayer would be influenced largely by the size and dynamics of your staff. For example, a smaller staff group might be able to use discussion of a movie as a way of exploring the meaning of a Gospel.

Example
A painting illustrating the Gospel could be displayed on an interactive board
Reading of the Gospel
Reflection
Invitation for share reflections
Our Father
Prayer

Another Example
Hymn
Reading of part of the Gospel
One or two of the mulling themes
Time for reflection
Psalm
Our Father
Prayer

  • The Harvest of Justice by David Haas
  • Only This I Want by Dan Schutte
  • Open my eyes by Jesse Manibusan
  • Canticle of the Turning by Rory Cooney

Envy And Avarice

Envy and Avarice, one summer day,
Sauntering abroad
In quest of the abode
Of some poor wretch or fool who lived that way–
You–or myself, perhaps–I cannot say–
Along the road, scarce heeding where it tended,
Their way in sullen, sulky silence wended;

For, though twin sisters, these two charming creatures,
Rivals in hideousness of form and features,
Wasted no love between them as they went.
Pale Avarice,
With gloating eyes,
And back and shoulders almost double bent,
Was hugging close that fatal box
For which she’s ever on the watch
Some glance to catch
Suspiciously directed to its locks;
And Envy, too, no doubt with silent winking
At her green, greedy orbs, no single minute
Withdrawn from it, was hard a-thinking
Of all the shining dollars in it.

The only words that Avarice could utter,
Her constant doom, in a low, frightened mutter,
‘There’s not enough, enough, yet in my store!’
While Envy, as she scanned the glittering sight,
Groaned as she gnashed her yellow teeth with spite,
‘She’s more than me, more, still forever more!’

Thus, each in her own fashion, as they wandered,
Upon the coffer’s precious contents pondered,
When suddenly, to their surprise,
The God Desire stood before their eyes.
Desire, that courteous deity who grants
All wishes, prayers, and wants;
Said he to the two sisters: ‘Beauteous ladies,
As I’m a gentleman, my task and trade is
To be the slave of your behest–
Choose therefore at your own sweet will and pleasure,
Honors or treasure!
Or in one word, whatever you’d like best.
But, let us understand each other—she
Who speaks the first, her prayer shall certainly
Receive–the other, the same boon redoubled!

Imagine how our amiable pair,
At this proposal, all so frank and fair,
Were mutually troubled!
Misers and enviers, of our human race,
Say, what would you have done in such a case?
Each of the sisters murmured, sad and low
‘What boots it, oh, Desire, to me to have
Crowns, treasures, all the goods that heart can crave,
Or power divine bestow,
Since still another must have always more?’

So each, lest she should speak before
The other, hesitating slow and long
Till the god lost all patience, held her tongue.
He was enraged, in such a way,
To be kept waiting there all day,
With two such beauties in the public road;
Scarce able to be civil even,
He wished them both–well, not in heaven.

Envy at last the silence broke,
And smiling, with malignant sneer,
Upon her sister dear,
Who stood in expectation by,
Ever implacable and cruel, spoke
‘I would be blinded of one eye!’

Victor Marie Hugo