18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Fil-Mission Sunday

First reading: Eccl. 1:2,2:21–23

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities!  All things are vanity!

Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill, and yet to another who has not labored over it, he must leave property. This also is vanity and a great misfortune. For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which he has labored under the sun? All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation; even at night his mind is not at rest. This also is vanity.

Second reading: Col. 3:1–5,9–11

Brothers and sisters: If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.

Gospel: Lk. 12:13–21

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.”

In other words

Fr. Joey Miras, SVD (Toronto, Canada)

In one episode of the YouTube channel Agribusiness: How it works, the host interviewed a guest (Giemel) who sells coconut seedlings online. He asked him how much he has earned so far. He answered that the business has given him more than enough. He added though that he won’t become rich because he is a very generous person, and helps anybody in need, saying it with naughty laughs and meaningful smiles.

With what COVID-19 has brought to the world and humanity, it is difficult to keep one’s head high especially if the concerns focus on providing the basic necessities for one’s family. But this man, through his responses that reflected his experience, has managed not only to provide for his family but also to “give away” to others. It did not mean that he didn’t need the goods for himself, but he shared them because he enjoyed helping others.

In its more “romantic” form, the radical insecurity of following Christ is expressed in the saying of Jesus in Mt. 6:25–64, “Do not worry about your life. Look at the birds in the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them…” But in its more heartbreaking form these might be the reality of radical insecurity on the ground, “Sir, my family has nothing to eat tonight, can you spare us something?” or in another cultural context, “Do you have any extra fruit or vegetables?”

What is really needed and what is not? Perhaps there can never be a right and healthy balance an individual or institution can have in terms of keeping his/her financial, social, and emotional well-being. Human situations are always fluid. But basic to a believer is the total dependence on the Creator without giving up one’s capacity to be productive.

First, radical insecurity is not a reckless abandon of one’s life to the elements. One just needs the basics. In another YouTube channel about urban gardening, Rob Greenfield shares how he grew and foraged his food 100% for an entire year. This means he did not buy anything from the groceries, ate in restaurants, and drank in fancy bars for any of his needs. He farmed vacant lots and turned them into food gardens for him, for the owner, and for the community.

Second, radical insecurity means dependence on others. In the first YouTube episode mentioned, Giemel said that he depended on others who advertised his coconut seedlings. He was only the delivery guy to those referred by his chat mates who were his advertisers. In Rob Greenfield’s YouTube episode, he said vacant lot owners lent him the land in exchange for a share in the food that he would be able to grow.

Third, radical insecurity means gratitude for the goods received. Giemel said that all his “wealth” was already spent when his child got sick a few years back. He already sold everything and he had almost nothing. What he has now is just another gift to be shared. Rob Greenfield said that friends helped him, for example, gather unwanted bees by neighbors which he put in his garden. He talked to local farmers, friends, and other permaculture enthusiasts about the plants that grow in the area. He felt the isolation he was into, implying that he needed support in the social and emotional aspects of his life.

There is so much need but there is also so much abundance. The radical insecurity demanded in following Jesus faithfully is having everything in spite of having nothing. Sometimes we fail to explore more about what life is all about.

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