Commentary on the Gospel of

Larry Gillick, S.J. - Creighton University's Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality

Memorial of Saints John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs

This Reflection has to have two separate, but in a way, one unified theme. The eight French-Jesuit martyrs are commemorated on this date every year. The Readings for this liturgy are, (2 Cor. 4, 7-15 and Matthew 28, 16-20).

They were Jesuits living and spreading the Good News among the Huron people of southern Ontario and northern New York in the middle seventeenth century. They all experienced being brutally killed.

Historically, the newly-arriving “white” immigrants were bringing along with them diseases such as Small Pox to which the Indigenous people had no resistance. The Algonquin people believed that such “white” people as these Jesuits had to be removed. At that same historic time, the enemy tribes of the Huron, the Algonquin, were attacking them intending to rid them of that area and possess it.

These eight men stayed faithful to their missions and their faith in living this feast’s Gospel, to go out to all the nations. They were canonized in 1930 by Pope Pius the eleventh. A shrine and public museum near Midland, Ontario two hours north of Toronto, attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Today is also Monday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time and so we have a quite dramatic Gospel. An easy-to-understand parable presents us with some good questions about our possessions. It is easy enough to understand and difficult enough to pray and ponder.

The man has a tremendous harvest and so he does a wise thing. He says to himself that he will build a larger barn and then put in it a delightful place of security and satisfaction. Let us call his harvest a “bumper crop”. So I say to myself, “What’s a bumper got to do with this.” A bumper is both a protection on a car or truck and also is a shiny decoration.

So while this fellow has it all in his mind, Jesus tells this parable to remind His listeners that this fellow cannot take it all with him if he were to die that night. Jesus refers to the bigger-barn-builder as a “fool.” I suspect Jesus called him that, because the man was using his riches as a “bumper” or “decoration.”

Anything with which I surround myself so as to prevent personal relationships of all kinds, would also be a “fool” in the eyes of Jesus. Any thing or things which cushions us from being available to the pains and needs of others announces that we are “fools” by our being self-sufficient.

The harvester decorated himself in his own eyes and would receive his identity from what he thought he himself produced. He adorned himself with a “bumper” of plenty and rejoiced in his new-found allusion. He thought he was what he temporally and temporarily possessed. Jesus reminds His listeners in this parable, that now you see it as your own and then it’s gone and so are you.

This Gospel-story needs little explanation, but much consideration of a very important invitation. The wheat-wealthy fellow received the crop from the earth as a gift and he took it as his own. Gifts are meant not to be “bumpers”, but received in preparation to be shared. Getting is about me. Receiving is about allowing it to be a gift to others. Car-bumprs are for defense, bumper-crops are abundance unconfined, but readied for generous distribution. What we receive is not our definition, but our availability.

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