You Can’t Take It with You

 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 14, 2018

As Mr. Smith was on his death bed, he attempted to formulate a plan that would allow him to take at least some of his considerable wealth with him. He called for the three men he trusted most – his lawyer, his doctor, and his priest. He told them, “I’m going to give you each $30,000 in cash before I die. At my funeral, I want you to place the money in the coffin so that I can try to take it with me."

 

All three agreed to do this and were given the money. At the funeral, each approached the coffin in turn and placed an envelope inside.

While riding in the limousine back from the cemetery, the priest said: “I have to confess something to you fellows, “Mr. Smith was a good churchman all his life, and I know he would have wanted me to do this. The church needed a new baptismal font very badly, and I took $10,000 of the money he gave me and bought one. I only put $20,000 in the coffin”.

 

The physician then said, “Well, since we’re confiding in one another, I might as well tell you that I didn’t put the full $30,000 in the coffin either. Smith had a disease that could have been diagnosed sooner if I had this very new machine, but the machines costs $20,000 and I couldn’t afford it then. I used $20,000 of the money to buy that machine so that I might be able to save another patient. I know that Mr. Smith would have wanted me to do that, so I only put $10,000 in the coffin.

 

The lawyer then said, "You two should both be ashamed of yourselves. Mr. Smith trusted us to put the full $30,000 in his coffin and that is exactly what I did. When I put that envelope in the coffin, it held my personal check for the full $30,000.”

 

Money. We all know you can’t take it with you. Yet we all live as though we can. Naked we come into the world and naked we go out. Our Gospel reading today is both challenging and disturbing. A man comes up to Jesus and asks what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him to keep the commandments. The man is thrilled and he excitedly tells Jesus he has kept them since his youth. The Gospel then tells us: “Jesus, looking at him, LOVED him…” (Don’t miss the words, “Jesus loved him.”) Jesus then instructs him to give to the poor, and the man went away sad for he had many possessions. Then Jesus says: “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God.”

 

Jesus is telling us that it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom, not impossible, but hard. All people are called to be generous, especially the rich. The gospel tells us in many places that when more is given a person more is expected.

But of course the problem is always the same: Selfishness.

 

The world is not a level playing field. Some are born into wealth; others are born in a third world country through no fault

of their own. It is not fair, life is not fair. So we must strive to somehow begin to level the playing field. We do this by being generous, sharing what we have with those who have less.

 

The Gospel is about generosity, but not “once-in-a-while” generosity, but instead it is about a lifestyle of generosity. A lifestyle of generosity begins with the awareness that all I have is a gift from God. All that I have is a loan from God, and someday God is going to want it back. By virtue of our creation none of us deserve anything.

 

We are talking about attitude, a lifestyle of generosity. A person asks for help, you help them with even thinking about it.

If someone is in need you help them without even thinking about it. You just do it. I am sure we have all met people like that. You have heard it said: “He would give you the shirt off his back.” Many of us ARE people like that.

 

In conclusion, no matter how hard you try, you cannot take any material things out of this world. Ask Mr. Smith. But you can take your character, your lifestyle, your values, and God’s grace. Amen.

 

Fr. Terry Hazel

Sunday Readings

Isaiah 53:10–11

The Lord’s will shall be accomplished through him.

 

Hebrews 4:14–16

...Let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

 

Mark 10:35–45 or Mark 10:42–45

[Jesus said,] “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”