|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do Not Go Away Sad
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 11, 2015
No one would have thought him a hero. He was an unscrupulous Catholic businessman, who profited in the World War II Nazi regime by running a Polish factory with Jewish slave labor. He was friends to the Nazi generals and SS. His goal was to “make so much money that no one could possibly spend it in a lifetime.” Oskar Schindler was a man who dedicated his life to making money and did not care about the cost it took on humanity.1
His story is told in the movie, Schindler’s List, a brilliant depiction of this complex man. We are not quite sure where his conversion occurred. Possibly it was the day in which he saw hundreds of Jews crammed into a cattle car boiling in the hot midday sun with no window, no air, stifling and dying; he asks the cruel Nazi SS officer if he could just hose down the cattle car with water to save his merchandise that was valuable to him. Or it might have been some other incident, but we do know that when Schindler turned his life around, he spent every dime of his ill-gotten wealth bribing SS and Nazi officers and smuggling over 6,000 Jews to freedom. Ironically, he died a pauper himself.
We contrast Schindler with the rich young man we hear in today’s gospel. Here is a man who has lived the commandments all his life but he cannot let go of his money or his possessions. Then he walks away sad.
The challenge before us today is that we do not feel wealthy; many of us do not have a lot of disposable income. We have the expenses of a house, car and the kids; and we often do not feel wealthy.
Yet over one billion of our world’s population lives on a single dollar a day. Of those, many starve to death each day. We see that in comparison to them, we are wealthy! This gospel is hard for us to hear because we do not think we are like the “rich young man.”
The man in today’s gospel has many possessions. He thinks that he owns them–his possessions. Yet his possessions own him because he cannot let go of them.
The challenge for all of us is how and where do we spend our time and our money? On whom do we spend it? To whom do we direct it?
We live in one of the wealthiest parts of the county, in one of the wealthiest counties in our state, in one of the wealthiest states in the country in the wealthiest country in the history of humanity. Some of us are in the top 1% of the world’s wealth.
It is what we do with what we have been given that will separate us. Today, may we not go away sad; may we go away happy that we have chosen to be compassionate to those in need; that we will give and share what we have been given because Christ has asked us to do so.
(Endnotes) 1 Adapted from Gloria Hutchinson, “Sunday Homily Helps,” (St. Anthony Messenger Press: Cincinnati, OH, October 14, 2012)