Sunday, September 25, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor 

Quote of the Week: "The measure of love is love without measure.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Then Abraham said: “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”

The verdict is in and most would agree. Truth, love, compassion, generosity – most of these deepest human realities have the toughest time sinking roots all the way down into the heart and soul. They often brush up against the heart and soul, but sink all the way in? That’s a different story.

When roots appear and truly grab onto and into the heart and soul, things are never the same. Jesus is forever speaking about roots and conversion – change of heart and soul.

Today relates to one of the toughest ones: wealth — having more, getting more, keeping more – now this is a reality or illusion that allures most in life.

The famous saying remains true to this very day: “The rich get richer while the poor get poorer.”

Most rich don’t easily give it away unless doing so brings a nice tax break. Thank God for taxes for the rich — if it were so!

Statistics from the Survey of Consumer Finances sponsored by the Federal Reserve Board providing data since 1983 report the following about distribution of wealth in the United States: the bottom 40 percent of our families possess 0.2 percent of wealth; combined with the next two lowest groups, this bottom 80 percent possess 15.3 percent. That means that the top 20 percent possesses 84.7 percent.

It gets better.

The top 5 percent of families alone possess 58.9 percent of all the wealth. To round out the good bad news: 1 percent of U.S. families owns, possesses, has, keeps, a mere 34.3 percent of U.S. wealth.

Since this issue has been around a long time, is it any surprise that Jesus would have an opinion on it?

He tells a story to the Pharisees, the educated, rule keepers, people of means, who supported the system that supported them. These people believed and proved it to be true that given a real chance, you could be what you want to be. You could have what you want to have. You could keep what you want to keep.

And not surprisingly they thought themselves to be better than most because they lived good lives — with one little exception. They knew every loophole how to avoid all except the minimum.

Their usual question was: “What do I have to do? What is expected? What will get me: eternal life; salvation; the kingdom?” It wasn’t: “What can I do?” —  but rather – “What must I do?” Their philosophy was ‘do the least’  and  ‘get the most’! Can’t fault them. It’s in our genes – our DNA. We are sinners.

We like the easy way. We want to get more than to give.  We think we possess wealth; but in truth, it owns us! It is very hard to get this message across. Jesus knew that! “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

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