By Rev. Ray Atwater, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, St. Mary of Mt. Carmel, and St. Paul Catholic Church, Traer

One’s life does not consist of possessions

 This past Sunday we heard the parable of the rich fool, who learns, to his dismay, that there is more to life than what he owns or even what he plans to do (build a barn, have a party). Each of us is put in this world for a certain length of time. We are given gifts, talents, and perhaps even great wealth. At the end of our life, God will demand an accounting for the kind of person we have become, not for the number of possessions we have amassed. In the end, the one with the most “toys” doesn’t necessarily win.

Early in our lives, we learn to look beyond possessions. We realize that God is not impressed with the wealth we accumulate, the clothes we wear, or the house we occupy. We are encouraged to root out greed and practice charity. We are told to make a special effort at being grateful for the Lord’s blessings.

But despite these teachings, we can still give into the temptation to think that what really counts in life is what we acquire. The heart of being a Christian is who we are, not what we have or what we do. We are precious and valuable in God’s eyes from the moment we are conceived. And we remain dependent on God throughout our lives. Yes we are to attend church regularly, obey the Commandments, watch our language, give to charity, and pray daily. But we should also grow rich in the things of God. And what are those things? Virtue. A virtuous, grace-filled life pleases God more than anything.

Instead of asking ourselves, “What have I acquired today?” we should ask, “How have I pleased God today?” “What virtues have I acquired today?” “Have I used my riches for God’s glory or my own?” Our basic vocation is to grow in holiness (cf. Lev. 19:2). If we acquire more holiness every day, our lives and those around us will be richer, and we will die in a state of grace and happiness.