The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C - 4th August 2013

Every time the prize for the National Lottery passes 5 million Euro there are queues to buy tickets.  When the prize is 1, 2, or even 3 or 4 million people seem less interested.  Isn't there something very interesting in the fact that people, most of them not particularly wealthy, will almost scorn a prize of "only 1 million Euro"?  When you think about it, the likelihood of one individual amassing a fortune of 1 million Euro is very slim.  That is why we have a special word, "millionaire", to describe people who achieve such a lofty height.  We just don't have a special word for somebody who has 100 or even 1,000 euro.  A million represents enormous wealth and yet, when the prize is "only a million" many people don't even bother playing the lottery!

It seems that there is something about wealth that seriously distorts our vision of reality.  This is more than greed.  Greed is about acquisitiveness; it is about accumulating.  What is going on with the case of the lottery, while it probably includes its fair share of greed, has to do with the whole question of what is enough?  At what point is what we have enough?

At one level we all know that the most important things in life are family, health and other similar things.  Wealth, however, continues to have its fascination for us.  And yet, the problem of wealth is that it never seems to be enough.  This is the point that Jesus is making in the story he tells in today's gospel reading.  At its heart it is about happiness.

St. Augustine spent his life looking for happiness - he thought that he would find this in his career, in fame, and even in wealth.  Only after he had wasted many years in this search for happiness did he discover that the only place that happiness will ever be found will be inside yourself.  It is there that you find who you really are and who you really are is only to be found when you come to realise your relationship with God.

There can never be happiness unless there is peace and no one can be happy until they are at peace with themselves.  How many people in our society suffer greatly because of their inability to cope with their problems, their past, their worries.  The modern word for this peace is "integration".  This, really, means making yourself as complete as possible.  Augustine's insight is that, because we are made in the image of God, we can never be happy until we are united with God.

When this type of happiness is glimpsed wealth becomes relegated to a very poor second place.  Money just can't give us this happiness.

Augustine says: "Search for God to find yourself, search for yourself to find God"
In this search lies the search for true happiness.

Article posted on 29th of July 2013

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