In this passage that we have as today’s Gospel, it seems to me, and others have suggested this also, that last Sunday’s teaching was very difficult for us to accept. You remember, Jesus said so clearly, “Avoid greed at all costs.”
Earlier in the Gospel, Luke had already put in Jesus’ version of the Sermon on the Mount, “Woe to the rich, blessed are the poor.” He makes it so stark, almost, and tells that parable about the rich person who had accumulated unlimited wealth and he didn’t know where to store up all his wealth, so he was going to build new barns, store it all up, and then he could just relax and take it easy, rejoice and live fully. But in the parable Jesus says, “You fool! This night your life will be taken from you.” Who’s going to get all his wealth?
That led us to remind ourselves from the [Second] Vatican Council teachings that God made the world for all and not for a few, so when we have such a terrible distortion of the distribution of the goods of the earth, with so few having so much and so many having so little, it’s wrong. Catholic social teaching tells us that we don’t even have a right to what is beyond our use when others lack the barest necessities. Well, today’s Gospel helps us to put the teachings of Jesus into a context — not to diminish the strength of the teachings — but at least to put it in a context that maybe helps us to find it more possible to integrate that teaching into our lives….