“Be rich in what matters to God. For where your treasure is, there also your heart will be.”

On February 27, 2013 I had the privilege of delivering the homily at my school’s Lenten Liturgy of the Word. The reading for the day was the Parable of the Rich Fool. I have decided to share the homily with my readers.

“Be rich in what matters to God. For where your treasure is, there also your heart will be.” Today’s parable reminds us that we have but limited control over our future and in the time that we have we should strive for a life that is rich—not in the manner of what we can possess—but in the manner of how we love.

The rich man in today’s parable stores his grain after a prosperous season. He doesn’t plan to share his grain, but instead celebrates his wealth and looks forward to a life of comfort. He cares only for himself, oblivious to the needs of others. But, we are reminded that with our actions comes accountability. The rich man must answer God as to what will happen to those grains once he is gone. In the end, what good would storing all that grain do? In the end, no amount of grain will earn the rich man the opportunity to bargain for more time or have a second chance at life.

It is not uncommon for us to preoccupy ourselves with our material possessions. It only takes seconds of a newscast covering the latest Apple release or Black Friday sale to witness the importance placed on material goods in this world. Our treasures have become those things that we can see and touch—temporary joys that within a matter of months become obsolete and need replacement. Then we desire the next of the latest and greatest and the cycle begins again. Material possessions.  Temporary joys.  But, the parable does not tell us to stay away from wealth or possessions. Rather, we are reminded that in our pursuit of success and possessions we run the risk of striving for the things in this life that will lead us to a focus solely on the “I” instead of the “we.” When we are primarily driven by our attachment to our material possessions—our want for more than we need—we lose sight of our priorities and of those things that fill us with the love and joy that can’t be bought or seen. We walk hand in hand with greed and allow it to take over our hearts and dictate our actions.

Some of you may know that I haven’t always been a teacher. Before deciding to finally listen to God’s voice calling me to this vocation, I worked as a public relations executive and social media strategist in the corporate world. Like the rich fool I, too, allowed my heart to be led by temporary joys and allowed my judgment to be clouded by my desire for more. In my years in corporate life I subjected myself to working long hours and weekends at the cost of disconnecting from the people I loved—my parents and close friends. I became focused on what those long hours could earn me—fancy dinners, nice trips, technology, and many a Broadway show. I lost focus on the things that most matter to me—my family, my friends, my faith, my integrity. Instead, I became concerned with how many awards I could earn for my clients and how many I could earn for myself. There was no joy in my work except for the temporary joys I acquired. I worked harder, faster, more efficiently solely for the purpose of finding myself on the receiving end of an accolade or holding the latest gadget in my hands. I became a 21st century rich fool who lost sight of the things that mattered, but couldn’t recognize it until her closest friends sent her an email that said, rather bluntly, “we have no idea who you are anymore, we miss the you that would always find time for [others].” Those words, from their hearts to mine, led me to reconsider my priorities and reconnect with what I hold most dear. It was then that I chose the path of an educator—a treasure that fills my heart with joy from the moment I walk into this building each day and with every interaction I have with all of you.

Jesus, in the Gospels, consistently teaches us to exercise concern for others—to share our talents, our time, and our resources. To be rich in what matters to God is to give fully of ourselves recognizing that the “I” is enriched within the “we.” True riches are not those things easily found on store shelves or in online shopping carts. True riches are found in those things that make our heart sing and our soul dance. True riches are found in the love we give and the love we receive, in the relationships with our parents and families, in our interactions with our friends, in our dealings with colleagues, in our treatment of fellow students and teachers, and even in the hospitality shown to the strangers in our midst. True riches are found when what we do externally builds us up internally and gives birth to long-lasting joys—to the immaterial and intangible that no amount of money can buy for us. The rewards of love and service far exceed the wealth and recognition that material goods can ever give us.

In this season of Lent we are invited to reexamine our lives. We are encouraged to be accountable for our mistakes and failings and to turn our minds and hearts away from those aspects of our lives that keep us from being the best of ourselves. In fasting and almsgiving, we give of ourselves in order to refocus on what inside us needs to change and to reconnect with our brothers and sisters, for whom the giving of our time and talent may mean everything. The prophet Isaiah, from today’s first reading, challenges us to stand up for others not as a one-time act of humility, but as a lifestyle of service to God and others. In doing so, Isaiah tells us that our “light shall break forth like the dawn.” This Lenten season, I challenge us not to isolate ourselves with our wealth as the rich fool did. Let us give freely of ourselves and our resources. Let us share our gifts and talents. I challenge us to reach out to others within this community and outside of it. Let us allow ourselves to experience a transformation of the heart—aim to repair relationships, strive to reach out to those in need, break down the self-created walls that keep us from reaching out to those we have never spoken to before, work to heal and not destroy, and share ourselves with others. Be people of compassion. Be love. Be light. Be selfless. Our greatest example is Christ who, on the cross, did not focus on himself, but on us all in the fullness of love. You have the opportunity to change now into better people that will continue to strive for the same beyond this season.

Let your light shine…for that is your greatest treasure…

Mercy Community: Let Us See YOU Shine.

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