In his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis states ‘Once man has lost the fundamental orientation that unifies his existence, he breaks down in to the multiplicity of his desires…’ (p13) In explaining this idea Fr. James Schall, S.J. says: ‘We cannot explain ourselves by ourselves to ourselves.’
This is strikingly shown in the parable in today’s Gospel. The rich man in musing about a problem he has says: ‘“What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’
This rich man’s whole point of view is based on his successes. He probably looks at his good fortune as a sign from God that he is good, he has found favor with his creator. In short, his center of his life is himself – God revolves around him.
But as we grow older we come to understand that this point of view gets stretched thin, it starts to have many holes. It isn’t a consistent theory. Fortunes come and go, we ride the waves of good times and bad times and ultimately we fail physically. Our journey, when viewed from a self-centered vantage point is one of ultimate futility.
But the good news is just that; the good news, the Gospel. Through our loving creator we have been given the gift of faith, we have been given the key to right-reason, we have in our grasp the truth of love. We know that we aren’t the center of existence; that we have as the center God – who was, is, and always will be. That come what may for us, we are always within God’s loving embrace; even more He has given us the means to judge what is important and desire what is truly meaningful. To Him we look, not to our possessions. It is His loving plan that we use to gauge what is truly important and how well we are doing. In short (and modifying Fr. Schall’s quote), we can explain ourselves by Him to ourselves. And maybe, most importantly, to others so they too can find the true gauge of existence, and find true joy, hope and peace.