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Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Lk


It is always later than we think, Jesus warns us in this Gospel reading. Even if we are not going to die tonight, we are going to die. No matter how great our wealth, we cannot take it with us. Our fame, our influence, our possessions, our accomplishments will soon pass and be forgotten. We must therefore seize the opportunity to make of our lives what we can. Before it is too late. The prospect is scary, but it is also reassuring. We still have time, some time. Not as much as we would like to have, but still enough. What are we going to do with it?

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Once upon a time the boy who was salutatorian of his high school class was very angry. He was sure that he was going to be valedictorian. That had been his goal for four years of high school. He was convinced that someone in the administration had wanted his rival to have the role and they had stolen it from him. And he was determined to prove that he was the better and smarter man. He went to an elite Eastern university and then on to a prestigious business school. He took a job with a successful trading firm and eventually became a partner. He and his wife and son and daughter had a city condo, a commuter house in an elite area outside of the city, a summer place at the beach, a villa in Florida and a condo in the ski area outside of Denver. They belonged to a select country club, had their own yacht and sailboat, and traveled everywhere in a corporate jet. He made every reunion of his high school class to show off his success and to gloat over what he considered the inferior social and economic success of his rival, a university professor. He knew his wife in her designer clothes made the rival’s wife, also a professor, look dull by comparison. He felt vindicated at these reunions. Not only was he more successful (in his opinion) than his rival, he and his wife were the classiest couple in attendance.

Then one year, shortly after the reunion, his son informed him he did not want to go to college. He wanted to be part of a rock group touring the country. At the same time his daughter announced that she was pregnant by the man who introduced her to drugs. Shortly after that, his wife said she was divorcing him because she had discovered he was having an affair with a younger partner. She was asking for 20 million dollars. One night during this series of assaults on his self-image, he turned on the TV and saw his rival surrounded by his family and being toasted by colleagues and students as he read congratulatory telegrams from around the world. He had just been named a winner of the Nobel Prize for his work in economics and the influence it had on bettering the life of the poor in many parts of the world. The winner humbly thanks all those who had supported him through the years – his family and colleagues without whom the award would never have been his. They all looked on in loving approval.

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