Augustine the Lector, Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
"Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, 'Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me." He replied to him, "Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?' Then he said to the crowd 'Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions.' Then he told them a parable. 'There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, 'What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?' And he said, 'This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, 'Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!'' But God said to him, 'You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?' Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God
" (Luke 12:13-21
Actually, Augustine actually pauses near the end of the parable to deliver this well-placed dagger to his congregation: "But God said to him, 'You fool!" . . . Now, some of you may ask, 'Does God really speak to fools?' O, my brothers, with how many fools does he speak here, every time the Gospel is read!"
Augustine begins his homily
on this Gospel reading by focusing on justice of the case which is brought to Jesus by the man in the crowd. "Ye see then how good a case this appellant had. For he was not seeking to take by violence another's, but was seeking only for his own which had been left him by his parents
" (2). He sums up, "just case, short case
" (3). Who else than Christ, he asks, is more competent to deliver a just judgment? If the man could not get a fair trial from Christ, from who else? And yet, lo and behold, Christ seems to let him down. Why?
"He asked for half an inheritance, he asked for half an inheritance on earth. The Lord offered him a whole inheritance in heaven. The Lord gave more than he asked for" (2).
For how does Christ address him? "Man" ('Friend' in our translation, but homo
). But he was a mere 'man' precisely because of his greed. Christ, however, "wished to make him something more than a man. What more did He wish to make him? . . . I will tell you, 'I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High'"
Augustine shows how Christ raises the standards of our normal assessment of greed: "Thou wouldest call him covetous and greedy, if he were seeking another's goods; but I say, seek not even thine own greedily or covetously." Human standards of justice fail, in fact, when illumined by the light of Christ. For we measure justice in human terms. Augustine asks us to measure them by the rule of the Heavenly city. For there is the fullness of that 'life' which cannot consist of mere possessions.
# posted by Jamie : 4:08 PM