18 Sunday C: The Good and the Goods

By Monsignor Francesco Follo
PARIS, August 02, 2013 ( - As the pearls are linked together by a string so are the virtues of charity that make us rich of God (St. Pius of Pietralcina)

1)    To accumulate the Good not goods.
In the first reading of the Roman Liturgy, three forms of vanity are identified: the sterility of human effort, the fragility of the achieved results and the many abnormalities and injustices of life. In the Gospel Jesus speaks about a rich man satisfied for his wealth that is being told “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you”. ( Lk 12;20). This speculator was not very clever. In fact he had not ”invested” well. The Redeemer doesn’t limit himself to verify the vanity, the lack of foundation and the uncertainty of material goods. I don’t believe that the Messiah intent is simply to disenchant man in making him free from the fascination of ownership. Christ indicates more deeply the true way of liberation.” Thus will be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God” ( Lk 12:21). It is the “for oneself” that is wrong and must be substituted with another orientation, in front of God.

What does this mean practically? I think the explanation is in the verses that follow the ones of today’s liturgy. Three teachings are visible in those verses. To become rich in front of God means not to fall into the temptation of anxiety if as everything depends on us. To become rich in front of God means to subordinate all – work, goods, and life- to God’s Kingdom. To become rich in front of God means “to give alms”. The “in front of” God becomes “for the others”. To become rich in itself is to become prisoner of vanity. On the contrary charity, fraternity and love are values that never fail.
Among the many saints of poverty that have enriched the Church I’d like to point out two.
The first one is Saint John Maria Vianney, the Saint Cure d’Ars. I’d like to mention him because today is the liturgical memory of this humble and poor pastor. At his time Ars was a small village of approximately 2000 inhabitants. He was a true follower of Saint Francis of Assisi as disciple in the Third Order of Saint Francis. Rich in the Good he donated his goods to the others. He lived in poverty with an absolute detachment from the goods of the world and his heart, totally free, opened to all the material and spiritual miseries that came to him. “My secret” he used to say” is very simple: to give all and not to keep anything”. His lack of interest made him very attentive towards the poor and above all those of his parish to whom he showed an extreme sensitivity treating them “with true tenderness, many cares and, one must say, with respect”. He recommended that we must never disrespect the poor because such disrespect falls on God. When the poor knocked at his door he was happy to be able to say “I’m as poor as you are. Today I’m one of you!” At the end of his life he used to say ” I’m very happy, I don’t have anything and the good God can call me whenever He likes”. For him the poor were also the sinners that came to him from all over France. He gave them the charity of the forgiveness of God and of the peace of heart.
The second one is Saint Omobono Tucenghi, patron of my dioceses of Cremona. While I beg your pardon for this bit of parochialism, I’d like to say that he is a saint applicable to today’s theme because from the beginning the Church has called him “ Father of the Poor”, “consoler of the afflicted”, “ man of peace and peacemaker” “ good man named and made”. You could object that he is a medieval saint, far away in time. However I’d like to propose him because he is really meaningful. This saint from Cremona is the first and only lay people and a married merchant that has been canonized in the Middle Age. At the end of the XII century it was not easy for a lay person married and deep into business, not belonging to a royal or noble family to be proclaimed Saint and that was done less than two years after his death on November 13, 1197.
Saint Omobono (Good Man in Italian) Tucenghi had truly paid homage to his name. He was a clever man that had shown great talent in business becoming rich and respected in a time when in Cremona the textile industry was one of the main activity that had made the city wealthy. At the time when, like today, money and commerce were the center of city life, Omobono combined justice and charity. He made charity a sign of sharing with the spontaneity with which he, because of the continuous contemplation of the Crucifix, learned to testify the value of life as a gift.
      From looking at Christ came his sainthood that made him understand that the money gained was not his only, but belonged by right to the poor and particularly to the poor children of his town.
     He transformed his house in a “welcoming house’ and consecrated himself to the burial of the abandoned dead. His generosity was so well known that still today when a request is exaggerated, we say” I don’t have the money of Saint Omobono”.  Tradition says that his money never finished so that he was able to donate continuously.
      He died in church at the singing of the Gloria while attending Mass as he used to do every day.