Today’s gospel goes to the heart of our Cistercian life. The world in which we live has great demands on us. From an early age we are taught save money, to work towards a pension and a mortgage, to develop a nest egg in a bank account just in case something happens in the future. And it is good to save. We should not underplay The importance of preparing for a good and productive life.
But the monastic way is different. We are taught to redact most of what culture tells us is important, and instead to build up a relationship with God. We are instructed to build up our heavenly storehouses, to pray and study scripture, and to see God not only in ourselves but in the lives of all of those around us.
This is what is truly important. Our spiritual ancestors such as Saint Anthony of the Desert, St Fancis and St Benedict adopted lives of penance and simplicity when they didn’t ultimately need to. For many people the decisions that these great Saints made was weird. They turned away from wealth and grandeur and privilege, and embraced the kind of life that we live here at Mount St Joseph Abbey. At the centre of our vocation is the desire to communicate with our creator. This desire transcends the need and desire for temporal goods, money and worldly power, and for any of the other vacuous trappings of life. The decision that these Saints made is not necessarily a single decision, but had to be remade sometimes on a daily basis. This is what we call daily conversion. Starting again. In other words, getting back up again when we fall flat on our faces. Looking into a bank account full of savings is wonderful because we see the result. But building a spiritual store house is not so easy. We may feel totally useless or incapable, even after much effort in the spiritual sphere. But the storehouses of Heaven are are a mystical place and we do not fully understand them. God wants us in some ways to experience the full range of humanity, and this includes the truth of failure, of not being any good. Yet all of this is part of our store, part of the gift that God gives us towards becoming members of his Kingdom.
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit
A reading from the Gospel according to Luke 12: 13-21
Glory to you, O Lord.
A man in the crowd said to him,
‘Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.’
‘My friend,’ he replied-‘who appointed me your judge, or the arbitrator of your claims?’
Then he said to them,
‘Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind,
for a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more than he needs.’
Then he told them a parable:
‘There was once a rich man who, having had a good harvest from his land, thought to himself, “What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops.”
Then he said, “This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them, and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time.”
But God said to him, “Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?” So it is when a man stores up treasure for himself in place of making himself rich in the sight of God.’
The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.