1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75
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.