Rich in His Eyes
A very wealthy man died and went to heaven. An angel guided him on a tour of the celestial city. He came to a magnificent home. “Who lives there?” asked the wealthy man. “Oh,” the angel answered, “on earth he was your gardener.” The rich man got excited. If this was the way gardeners live, just think of the kind of mansion in which he would spend eternity. They came to an even more magnificent abode. “Who’s is this?” asked the rich man, almost overwhelmed. The angel answered, “She spent her life as a missionary.” The rich man was really getting excited now. Finally, they came to a tiny eight-by-eight shack with no window and only a piece of cloth for a door. “This is your home,” said the angel. The wealthy man was flabbergasted. “I don’t understand. The other homes were so beautiful. Why is my home so tiny?” The angel smiled sadly, “I’m sorry,” he said, “We did all we could with what you sent us to work with.”
As we listen to the gospel today, it is obvious that the wealthy man ends up a failure. Jesus does not tell this parable to simply move us to condemn the man’s selfishness. The moral of the story says, “Thus it will be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”
Jesus is speaking to us. Our treasure may be great or it may be small, but in the end it is a fact that we each have much that we keep for our self, the things we need to be comfortable and feel secure that we can take care of our self and our loved ones. Whatever we have is a sign of God’s blessings. And we have to constantly consider if we are using these gifts responsibly, because there are others whose need is great, and we have the power to choose to share what we have to help them. We are not asked to give away all we have to follow Jesus, but Jesus says that giving even a cup of water to one of his disciples will be rewarded, and we can do so much more than that.
Having a spirit of generosity matters to God, because we are expected to imitate God’s generous nature as much as we are able. But there is so much more that makes us “rich” in the eyes of God. In imitation of Jesus, as we seek each day to do the will of God in all things, avoiding sin, looking for opportunities to do good and reminding our self that we are with God all through the day by our prayerful attitude, our relationship with God becomes richer.
When suffering comes our way, or we find plans frustrated, when we are treated unfairly, we decide if we will join with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and pray that this be taken from us. But if that is not possible, we say, “Not my will, but your will be done.” As we reflect on the deeper meaning to our struggles found in the Cross and the love of Jesus for us, our relationship with God becomes richer.
As we make sure we are part of a loving family, by our respect and patience and the love given away and the love we receive from others, we discover that our family is larger than the relationship we have with a spouse, our parents, our brothers and sisters. Our relationship with God becomes richer as we decide to welcome a stranger; when we choose to respect someone who is different from us; as the effort is made to have a gentle, patient attitude toward every person because we are related – we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
No one can know when their time to stand before the Lord will come. And when it does, the treasures we present to the Lord will not be related to the value of what we possess. Only simple gifts will be valued in the eyes of God – love, goodness, generosity, patience, service to others. That is why we have to keep on working today to pile up those things that make us rich in the eyes of God.
–Fr. Stephen W Bierschenk