Daily Reflection
October 20th, 2003
Luis Rodriguez, S.J.
Chaplain, Creighton University Medical Center
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Romans 4:20-25
Luke 1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75
Luke 12:13-21

As I read today’s gospel passage, it remains unclear to me why Jesus connects greed with the request presented to him. To us today claiming one’s share in the inheritance would not seem greedy. The fact that the plaintiff was not presenting his claim to legal authorities might reflect lack of resources to do it, which would make the comment about greed look all the more misplaced, even if those words were addressed to the crowd rather than to that one person. Be it as it may, the parable would seem to address greed as an issue, not necessarily the “someone in the crowd” who asked for help.

We tend to associate greed with material goods, which is the usual connotation of that word. But somehow the parable takes me back  some fifty years, when we in the religious congregations were having bumper crops of vocations and our granaries were proving too small. So we decided —some times under pressure from Rome— to build larger novitiates and houses of formation, not out of a greedy desire to own more property, but based on a presumptuous projection of continued bumper crops of vocations. Was the Lord thinking: “You fools!”? What followed is now history and we can still see some of those white elephants housing bible schools or corporate offices.

It is not my intention to pass judgment on decisions made fifty years ago without the 20/20 benefit of hindsight. But in retrospective reflection we can perhaps learn from past developments. Even as we benefit from corporate experience and engage in five-year or ten-year planning for our ministries, it might not be idle to allow for the fact that the way God leads the Church or groups within the Church is not bound by actuarial statistics and projections that are otherwise not unreasonable in themselves. “God’s ways are not our ways.” [Is. 55:8]

We need both the humility to recognize that our necessary planning may not pan out and the courage to trust that the Good Shepherd will continue to lead the flock through paths we cannot wholly anticipate, let alone understand.

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