No distrust made Abraham waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith "was reckoned to him as righteousness." Now the words, "it was reckoned to him," were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
He has raised up for us a mighty saviour
in the house of David his servant,
as he promised by the lips of holy men,
those who were his prophets from of old. (R./)
A saviour who would free us from our foes,
from the hands of all who hate us.
So his love for our fathers is fulfilled
and his holy covenant remembered. (R./)
He swore to Abraham our father to grant us,
that free from fear, and saved from the hands of our foes,
we might serve him in holiness and justice
all the days of our life in his presence. (R./)
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." But he said to him, "Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?" And he said to them, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions."
Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God."
While Paul affirms the justifying power of faith, he does not intend to undervalue good works, as though we need do no more than believe. He was as aware as we are of the example of Jesus himself, who went about doing good, taching, healing, listening, defending and supporting the poor. If faith were enough on its own without being accompanied by good action, would Paul have forgotten the great prophets like Isaiah, whose message promoted a faith flourishing through works of justice? Paul's favourite Old Testament guide was Isaiah, who wrote the stirring, almost untranslatable couplet: Unless your faith is firm, You shall not be affirmed (Isa 7:9). This same Isaiah laid equal stress upon morality in action. Condemning Israel's liturgy as sterile and useless, he called for conversion: "Make justice your aim: redress the wrongs, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow" (Isa 1:16,23).
The gospel reminds us of the faults of omission of which otherwise good and wealthy people are often guilty. They can be so tenacious about keeping for themselves what they own as private property. They build their security on property and respectability. To this streak in most of us, Jesus gives this warning: Avoid greed in all its forms. Possessions do not guarantee life. Do not selfishly hoard all that you have, instead of growing rich in the sight of the Lord.
Wills, legacies and inheritance can be very divisive issues. Friends and relatives have been known to quarrel and splinter over the contents of a will. Reluctant to get involved with a family dispute over an inheritance, Jesus took the opportunity to comment on the dangers of greed, which he illustrated with a parable. It is about a farmer who once had a wonderful harvest, but the sheer abundance of his crops caused him a problem. He immediately began to worry about how to store all his extra grain. He devotes his energies to building bigger barns to store all his surplus goods, so as to secure his future. But just after completing this work on the new barns he dies. He thought he was now set up for a life of ease and luxury, but it turned out to be a false security.
At the end, our real security consists not in storing up massive surpluses, but in becoming rich in the sight of God. This we do by giving of ourselves as Jesus did so that others may have a fuller life. If by faith we see God is our ultimate security, it frees us to give generously of what we have been given, after the example of Jesus.