Are You Rich?
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

“If I were a rich man…” – this is the opening line of a song I remember from the movie, Fiddler on the Roof. What would you do if you were a rich man? My favorite barber-philosopher commented that a rich man could only eat so much, no matter how wealthy he is. He could only sleep on one bed and wear one set of clothes at a time. We have to admit though that it makes a difference when one is rich. Some of our longings may be contained in that song by ABBA:

Money, money, money must be funny in the rich man's world

Money, money, money always sunny in the rich man's world

All the things I could do, if I had a little money. It's a rich man's world.

Action starter: What is your wealth? Does it hinder you from following the Lord?

Let us take a look at what some living rich men did with their money. In the Philippines, famous business tycoon John Gokongwei Jr. decided to donate 10.25 billion pesos ($20.5 M) of his personal wealth to charity, particularly for the education of young people. The famous martial arts actor and funny man Jackie Chan expressed that he is donating half of his wealth for the youth in Asia. Of course there is the highest recorded donation in history, made by Warren Edward Buffet who gave away about $30.7 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Many of the rich, and many of us who are not that wealthy or who have very little by way of financial resources may find the challenge of Jesus a very difficult one, “ Go sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. (Mk. 10:17-30)” This challenge was addressed by Jesus to a young man who was described as a very good person, one who has observed the commandments from his youth. Jesus loved him for this. To him the extra challenge was given. It was an invitation to discipleship and close friendship with Jesus. The young man could not take it. His face fell and he went away sad for he could not leave his wealth behind.

Had he stayed he would have heard Jesus’ promise, “I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mothers or father of children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age….with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.”

I often wonder why the phrase “with persecutions” is included. It seems to be an insertion in the text. It serves as a reminder that following Jesus is not a bed of roses. There are blessings and there are crosses – even for those who have given up a lot.

The Gospel this Sunday makes us examine where our priorities lie. What do we really value in life? Do we value the Jesus to the extent that what we consider as our wealth takes second place? Let the Lord Jesus be No. 1.