You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ --it is by grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in future ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith --and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
Cry out with joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing for joy. (R./)
Know that he, the Lord, is God.
He made us, we belong to him,
we are his people, the sheep of his flock. (R./)
Go within his gates, giving thanks.
Enter his courts with songs of praise.
Give thanks to him and bless his name. (R./)
Indeed, how good is the Lord,
eternal his merciful love.
He is faithful from age to age. (R./)
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." But he said to him, "Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?" And he said to them, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. 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."
He said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
Paul insists, not once but twice in the same paragraph, that we are saved by grace. To make it crystal clear that this grace is a free gift that precedes anything we do, not something that we have merited, he adds "this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one may boast." At first sight this may seem to render our own behaviour irrelevant to our salvation. If the gift is so freely given, what need is there for any effort on our part? It was surely to counter any such false, passive view that St. James made this rejoinder: "Faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead!" (Jas 2:17).
However, Paul is far from downgrading the need for good works, as our proper response to the free gift of grace. His favourite prophet was Isaiah, who wrote, in his famous call to conversion: "Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow" (Isa 1:16,23).
Jesus warns against a common fault of well-off, seemingly good people. They can be too fixated on profit and keeping all they have earned, inherited or invested. Rich people have a vested interest in maintaining the differential between themselves and the poor. They can put too much confidence in wealth and respectability. If they see no wrong in the growing gap between the highest and the lowest earnings, they ignore the fundamental Gospel imperative of sharing.
To this capitalist trend, which exists in some form in almost all of us, he warns: "Avoid greed in all its forms..Possessions do not guarantee life.. Do not grow rich for yourself instead of growing rich in the sight of the Lord."
We need to be security conscious in order to feel safe in our homes, especially if there are burglars in our neighbourhood. We need securing also at a deeper level, to feel secure for the future. Apart from whatever protection is offered by medicine and the law, many put their trust in their money or property as the only real security available in our ever-changing world.
Jesus warns against making property our main source of security. When someone came asking him to intervene in a family dispute about inheritance, he refuses to get involved, but offers his advice, that a person's life is not made secure by what he owns.
It's a sign of wisdom when we take this advice to heart. We discover a new freedom regarding ownership. It dawns on us that it's not owning things that counts, but having things to share with others.
This is a lesson that the rich man in the parable never learned. He heaped up money just for the sake of money and the pleasures it could buy. He stored commodities in ways that served no useful purpose for others. Like Scrooge, he felt sure he had more than enough to see him comfortable to the end. But when God suddenly called him from this life he faced his judgment as a poor man. In spite of owning so much, he was not rich in the eyes of God.
We need to be rather detached from money in order to be rich in the sight of God. This calls for a generous spirit, willing to share what we have so some others get a fairer deal in life. The life of Jesus is iconic for this kind of generosity, as Paul says, 'though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.'