In 1947 the newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst bought a 3.5 acre estate in Beverly Hills for $120,000.00. Hearst only lived there for four years before he died.
It has had a colorful history. John and Jacqueline Kennedy had their honeymoon there. It was the place where the infamous horse head was found in The Godfather movie.
Last October the Beverly House, as it is known, went on sale for $135 million. This was down from the $195 million price from two years ago. There are three swimming pools and 29 bedrooms. You hear about places like the Beverly House and you wonder what it must be like to live in places like that.
And then you listen to Jesus in today’s Gospel (Luke 12:13-21). A man spends his whole life becoming rich. He tears down his barns to build bigger ones. He makes plans to enjoy the rest of his life with all that he has accumulated. Maybe he had three swimming pools and 29 bedrooms too!
But in the middle of it all God speaks: “You fool!” The man is about to die and everything he has collected will be gone. “You fool!” Those of us hearing this can only wonder, “Is God talking to me?”
You know how it is – “The more you have, the more you want.”
I remember when I had and enjoyed owning a cell phone. Then 10 years ago the smart phone came out. I said to myself, “I don’t need that!” But when I saw others around me with a smart phone and I learned all it could do, I had to find Kleenex to wipe off the drool from my mouth! Last year I bought my 4th smart phone for $1,000.00. I kept wondering if I was “tearing down a barn” to get one.
This is the world we live in and this is the world Jesus lived in too. Our toys and our wants have changed, but our impulses have not changed. We hear in our first reading, “Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” (ECC 1:2). But God still puts it best: “You fool!” A God Flash
We spend so much of our lives trying to get what we really don’t need. So often we lose sight of what we do need.
In the Gospel Jesus cautions us about storing up treasures for ourselves while not being “rich in what matters to God.” Jesus doesn’t say we can’t have treasures. But we need to be “rich in what matters to God.”
Over the last few weeks, as we’ve listened to Luke’s Gospel, we’ve been hearing about “what matters to God.” We have been told to not look at what was left behind….to be bearers of peace….to love God and our neighbor like the Good Samaritan did….and last week Jesus taught us how to pray the Our Father.
These things are easy to forget or neglect when there are new toys waiting to be bought.
Certainly the poor matter to God. Jesus identifies himself with the poor. “I was hungry and thirsty, I was naked and in need, and if you fed or gave me drink or clothed me and did it to the lease of my sisters and brothers…..you did it to me”(Matthew 25). A God Alert
A few years ago I was in Haiti in Cite Soleil, one of the largest and worst slums in the world. Many of the children were naked. I asked a bare 7-year old girl if she had a dress to wear. She replied: “Yes, I have one dress. My mother is washing it.” The girl may well have told me a little, white lie.
Each and every one of God’s children, rich or poor, matters to God. How can a loving God allow so many of his children in our world to simply exist in a world of such abject poverty?
All I can think of when I visit Haiti is: “What if I came out of a womb here in Haiti instead of a womb in the United States? The chances to pull myself up by my own bootstraps would have been nil to none.”
The words of Mother Teresa often ring in my head: “The rich are in control of this world….The poor will be in control of the world yet to come.”
I also wonder what William Randolph Hearst is enjoying right now as I type these words….