Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 31, 2016
I remember a conversation I once had with a friend whose spending habits were beyond extravagant. He put an entirely new spin on the words “self-indulgent.” One day, after listening to him order the most expensive things on a menu, in a very pricey restaurant, I asked if he had set up an IRA…a “Roth”…had a savings account…basically, whether or not he had a retirement plan. He smiled and said: “Trickle down theory!”
TRICKLE DOWN THEORY!
My friend was an only child, an only grandchild to well-fixed grandparents, and an only nephew to a wealthy and childless aunt. So, he lived lavishly in the present, planning on maintaining the lifestyle to which he had become accustomed…into the future…with the inherited funds that would eventually “trickle down” to him.
My friend was an extreme example of the way most of us think when we are younger. Who will inherit the family cottage? I wonder who Gramma will leave her diamond necklace to? I hope old Uncle Ralph wills me his ’40 Ford.
But when we are older, we wrestle with a different concern, the sort of thing, as we heard in our First Reading, that keeps us awake at night. Who would take good care of the cottage? I love that place so much, I don’t want it to fall in disrepair after I’m gone. Who would appreciate my diamond necklace? My great-grandmother brought it from the old country. It’s been in our family for over a century. I don’t want it in a garage sale. None of the kids take care of their own cars…what am I gonna do with my vintage ’40 Ford?
It seems like our Readings this weekend speak to both situations. The young shouldn’t be overly confident about what might “trickle down” to them. Those nearing the end of their earthly lives, while wanting to be responsible with what they enjoyed in this life, should see the folly in trying to reach from beyond the grave in order to control material things…and focus on embracing the things that will never end.
But there is a much deeper lesson to be learned from the Readings. It deals with what is truly worth passing on…the thing of greatest value that we should make every effort to “trickle down” to the next generation…our faith in Jesus Christ!
From a spiritual standpoint, the young SHOULD LIVE LAVISHLY…in the present…using freely and without concern all of the graces which flow through the Holy Spirit in order to live a life of peace and joy. Lavishing themselves in the inexhaustible gifts that come from God, the young can better prepare themselves for an endless future in the Kingdom. Cultivating and becoming accustomed to a Christ-centered life style in our youth enables us to accept, appreciate, protect, and pass on all that trickles down to us from our ancestors in faith…OUR CHURCH…OUR SACRAMENTS…OUR HOPE IN THE PROMISE OF RESURRECTION AND ETERNAL JOY!
From a spiritual standpoint, as we age…WE SHOULD BE CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND.
We should be concerned that the next generation will care lovingly for The Church which we pass on to them. We need to gather our families together in our parishes, even as we invite them to “the lake.” The young should come to appreciate that our Church is a place where we come together as a family of faith to celebrate, to feast, to make memories, and to learn about our family history. The young should be eager to inherit our Church and commit to maintaining it in the best of conditions so that they, in turn, can pass it on to the generation that follows.
We should stay awake at night, hoping and praying that our children and grandchildren will recognize the value of our Sacraments. Handed down to us through the centuries, the Sacraments are seven priceless jewels meant to be used, and used frequently. If they are put away for safekeeping, they serve no purpose, and are in danger of being lost and forgotten. It is only when we bring them out and enhance or accessorize our faith with them that the next generation sees the beauty and understands the enormous value of these great treasures. It is only when they see how we treasure our Sacraments that they become eager to inherit these gifts that come to us from Christ.
It is entirely understandable that as we age, we wrestle with the fear that whoever gets the keys to the ’40 Ford that we have taken great pains to restore and preserve…will care for it as we try to. Of infinitely greater concern, however, is that the next generation will care for their spiritual lives. The keys to the most valuable of vehicles are nothing compared to the keys to the Kingdom.
So then, it seems that our Readings this week encourage the young to be extravagant in drawing from the infinite source of grace that is at their disposal…while at the same time working to establish a reserve of faith, hope, and love that will enable them to live in eternal peace.
At the same time, God’s Word that trickles down on the older generations is a reminder that what has been passed on to us must be used in such a way that the next generation becomes eager to inherit what we pass on to them.