“I will say to my soul: ‘My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink and have a good time.” (Luke 12:19)
If we are not particularly well off, it might be easy for us NOT to identify with the man in the parable in today’s readings. Or if we are, say, a priest, we might feel that we’re immune from being compared with the rich man in the parable. But I think Jesus wants us all to have a good hard look at how attached we are to worldly comfort, rather than storing up treasure for ourselves in heaven.
For instance, would it be right for a priest to say, “I offer Mass every day, and I pray the Divine Office, meditating on every word, so now I can relax and enjoy the other worldly comforts of my life”? In fact, it is easy for Priests to be somewhat removed from the realities which confront their ordinary parishioners. No matter how poorly a priest might carry out his job, he receives a guaranteed income from the Archdiocese. His parishioners who might be running businesses or working for the public or private sector, understand that they only hold their jobs if the business is profitable, or if they are meeting key performance review criteria. And a business will only be profitable with the dedicated hard work of the employees. Employers who sit back and cream off the profits created by the efforts of their workforce, breed resentment and will not grow their enterprise with integrity. When the workers know that the employer doesn’t have any interest in hearing their input, attending to their concerns or being, so to speak, a shepherd to them, they will have little loyalty to the company and will readily seek for employment elsewhere.
So it is, that in our parish life, there are several things that pastors are supposed to be doing to store up their treasure in heaven and to build parish life. If a pastor says he only has time to say Mass and pray the Divine Office, he has seriously misunderstood his role and responsibilities. I would ask such a pastor to meditate and reflect on Canon 528 and 529 about the duties of pastors. It is important for pastors to be aware that parishioners will vote with their feet by walking away to a different parish (or if their faith is wavering, even leaving the Church altogether) if they feel that the pastor is inward-looking, not outward-looking, defensive when questioned, prone to report parishioners who have genuine concerns to the vicar general for correction, instead of dealing with their concerns courageously and honestly, and with a genuine spirit of humility and self-examination.
When God makes a demand for our souls, will we truly be able to say that we have stored up treasure in heaven and addressed the duties outlined below in our pastoral area? What example are we setting in the wider community? Do people see us as a clique turned in on itself, or as people filled with the light of Christ who bring a message of hope, help and outreach to Yanchep, Guilderton and Lancelin?
Here are some excerpts from the duties of pastors according to Canon Law:
PARISHES, PASTORS AND PAROCHIAL VICARS
Can. 528 §1 … He is to make every effort, even with the collaboration of the Christian faithful, so that the message of the gospel comes also to those who have ceased the practice of their religion or do not profess the true faith.
Can. 528 §2 … The pastor … is bound to watch over [the parish] so that no abuses creep in.
Can. 529 §1. In order to fulfil his office diligently, a pastor is to strive to know the faithful entrusted to his care. Therefore he is to visit families, sharing especially in the cares, anxieties and griefs of the faithful, strengthening them in the Lord. With generous love, he is to help the sick, particularly those close to death, by refreshing them solicitously with the sacraments and commending their souls to God; with particular diligence he is to seek out the poor, the afflicted, the lonely … and similarly those weighed down by special difficulties. He is to work so that spouses and parents are supported in fulfilling their proper duties and is to foster growth of Christian life in the family.
Can 529 §2 . A pastor is to recognize and promote the proper part which the lay members of the Christian faithful have in the mission of the Church, by fostering their associations for the purpose of religion.
Let’s all pray for our Pastoral Area, that it will be able to carry out its mission with greater faithfulness and zeal for the people of our area to encounter the love of God.
Word format: Year C 18th Sunday 2016
Pfd format: Year C 18th Sunday 2016