Last week at Mass we heard Jesus instruct us to pray the ‘Our Father’. Our Gospel this week begins with a man telling Jesus what to do – a man concerned less with “Our Father” but more with ‘his brother’ who he feels has wronged him. This man treats Jesus as a functionary, someone who will act to resolve a dispute. In his self-absorption he has ignored the enormous and powerful truth that the man who came to us as a baby in a manger, is the savior of the world, the one who will bring good news to the poor and proclaim liberty to captives. He is our Savior and Redeemer. Perhaps, like this man, we too can reduce Jesus to a useful problem solver.
Jesus then goes on to issue us with a warning, and the warning concerns the word ‘avarice’. Avarice might be defined as a constant desire for more, or extreme greed. St Gregory the Great speaks about avarice in this way; “
The ancient enemy well knows to whom he may apply the fever of greed. He unsettles the mind, preying on our anxieties, searching into our dispositions, seeking opportunities for causing evil.” St John Fisher in turn comments “By avarice the affections of the heart become distorted and turn creatures in on themselves.”
The diminishment of Jesus, and the lure of avarice, as we gather this week let’s check ourselves that we have not become trapped into asking Jesus to bless our making ‘ever-bigger barns to store what we have.’