In our gospel this Sunday, Jesus is asked to mediate in a family quarrel over an inheritance, and refuses to be drawn into the dispute. Below is a commentary by Fr Dempsey on this passage:
“Most people don’t get bent out of shape over issues of inheritance…who gets what and how things should be divided up. Nevertheless, I have heard many an account of siblings at odds with one another, some not speaking to one another for years, over questions of inheritance. In Jewish society at the time of Jesus, all the children in the family shared in the inheritance, the eldest son receiving a greater portion than the others. The fellow in our gospel reading appeals to Jesus as an authority figure to support his case against his brother. Who was most greedy, whether this man or his brother or both, we don’t know, but it seems that both were putting a pretty high value on material possessions and that this conflict was dividing the family.
The parable that Jesus goes on to tell responds to that tendency and the ultimate vanity or waste of time and energy expended in acquiring and accumulating material possessions. ..how it robs people of greater relational and spiritual blessings.
Have you ever experienced a conflict with siblings over the distribution of a parent’s possessions? How important are material things in your life? We haven’t changed a great deal since Jesus’ time. This reading is as counter-cultural today as it was back then. What cultural values in our society tend to be at odds with the values Jesus encourages? How can we best uphold the values of Jesus while being part of our North American society?