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Jaime L. WatersJuly 22, 2022
Photo by Unsplash.

Many prayers are associated with St. Ignatius of Loyola, whose feast day is July 31. (While churches and other apostolates under the care of the Jesuits, for whom Ignatius is the patron, celebrate his feast as a solemnity no matter when it falls, a saint’s feast day is usually superseded by a Sunday when the two coincide. The readings for this column are those for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.) The Prayer for Generosity is especially important today:

“Though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” (Lk 12:15).

Liturgical day
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
Ecc 1:2-2:23; Ps 90; Col 3:1-11; Lk 12:13-21

Do you share your resources with others?

What can you do to combat poverty and be more generous?

How can St. Ignatius inspire your prayer life?

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
Teach me to serve you as you deserve,
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest,
To labor and not to seek reward,
Except that of knowing that I do your will.

In the Gospel on this feast of St. Ignatius, Jesus teaches generosity through the parable of the rich man. Jesus is asked by someone in a crowd, “Tell my brother to share the inheritance with me,” Jesus addresses this statement by teaching the principle of generosity. First, Jesus frames his response by directing attention against possessions, already suggesting that the speaker’s interest in gaining wealth is not most important. Then, Jesus teaches generosity through the parable of the rich man, often called the rich fool because he does not understand how to live well.

In the parable, a man has a bountiful harvest, and when he recognizes his wealth, he decides to store up all of his goods. He builds bigger storage facilities, hoarding what he has for his personal enjoyment. The man congratulates himself on his wealth and his ability to save. He also plans for a life of leisure since he has no financial concerns.

After doing these things, the man is confronted by God who calls him a fool for his actions. The critique is multifaceted. The man has not been generous with his possessions. Likewise, he has given his attention to the wrong aspects of his life. He has withheld his treasures instead of sharing them, and this type of abundance is not what God wants. As the text continues beyond today’s Gospel, Jesus instructs his followers to give away their possessions and trust in God’s love and care.

Within Jesus’ teaching, the importance of generosity is evident, as the man is informed that he will not be judged on how much wealth he has accumulated for himself. He has not been rich “in what matters to God,” namely generosity and service to others.

In addition to these principles, the parable encourages us to reflect on justice and wealth distribution. The man is able to accumulate wealth, presumably while others suffered in poverty. How is this man able to accumulate so much that he has to build bigger buildings to house his bounty? The man’s greed could imply that others lack access to the material wealth he has. This parable can inspire us to think broadly about social and economic justice in order to promote equity and access to necessary resources.

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