By the Back Room Theologian. This week’s gospel from Luke is about a topic I deal with every day…the family inheritance. Jesus was asked to arbitrate a family dispute over an estate. He responded with a warning. Don’t be concerned about gathering possessions on earth, even if you have them in abundance. When you are called home, those things become irrelevant. Translated into modern vernacular: Jesus told the man “You can’t take it with you.”
Several years ago, I had occasion to attend 2 funerals almost back to back. Both were businessmen. One was extremely successful and accumulated literally gobs of money. The other not so much. He was a nice guy who presided over numerous business deals that went bad. Everybody had a story to tell, one funnier than the next.
The successful man’s funeral was packed to the gills. People came in from all over. Many came out of friendship. But an equal share came out of obligation. The other funeral was also packed. Many in attendance were at the wrong end of those bad business deals…including me. But we went because we wanted to be there. Everything else notwithstanding, people liked this guy and his family. Many, including myself, felt a profound sense of loss with his passing. I still smile when I think about him.
So which funeral reflected the more successful man? The one where people were obligated to attend? Or the one where people attended by choice?
I like nice things as much as the next guy. I work hard to make money so myself and my family can enjoy some of the finer things of life. But in my practice, I have also seen people’s possessions strewn over the front lawn as strangers bid on boxes of underwear at the estate auction. One hundred years from now, we will be lucky to have someone cut the grass over our graves.
“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.”