Can we be spiritual “Hoarders”?

Our Gospel homily asked this question & I didn’t know quite what to make of it. The connection of “spiritual” with “hoarding” threw me off; they seem so polar opposite and worlds away from each other. But are the two words really opposites?

The question was asked by a priest who is a good friend, so I have no doubt about his purpose for asking this question- to get us to think and listen to our conscience and ask why we do what we do, or why we are not doing what God’s Word says we should do. He likes to highlight and emphasize contrasts and differences in matters. So if we can hoard materially, then perhaps we can “hoard” spiritually?

After I thought more about it, “spiritual hoarding” could be like trying to devour as many spiritual reading materials as possible in one lifetime. At least this is how I picture it.

Or, the most obvious example could be the Pharisees in Jesus’ time. The Pharisees were only concerned about knowing the Law so they could be looked up to by people. They just wanted to “hoard” knowledge to be respected and admired. They were prime examples of the warning in the Word which says “knowledge puffs up.”

Anyway, this may describe real people, and motives may differ, but I still don’t think one can be a genuine spiritual “hoarder” in this life. Not in the purest sense.

Here’s why I think not:

The question, Can we be a spiritual hoarder? was part of a reflection on a well known Gospel context: The man who was stewing inwardly because he wanted someone, namely Jesus, to make someone else give him his inheritance. Go figure! I laugh when Jesus told him he was not anyone’s judge or arbiter. The point was, the man desired riches- material “hoarding.” Material hoarding is obviously bad, but what is wrong with spiritual hoarding in terms of God and neighbor? What could be wrong with wanting to grow in more love with God and neighbor, and put sin out of our lives?

Nothing. But something about the word “hoard” implies a process of accumulation with the intent to be filled up with bad junk. It has a negative connotation. Take the Pharisees. They were “hoarders” of the Word for sure, but they did not change in response to the Word. They did not change because the Law convicted people, it did not transform people. And how come the Law did not change people? The Law was made to show man his need for a Savior. Only a Savior, Jesus Christ, can change, transform, save us.

Which brings me directly to the reason why I think we can not “spiritually hoard.” There is so much of me that I have to let go of to be like Christ, I will never be perfected in this lifetime. I can read all I can get my hands on, go to Mass every day of the week and memorize the whole bible, and there will still remain parts of myself that need to be crucified. Only Jesus can complete the process He has started in me.

Hoarding? Material riches- no. Spiritual riches- Yes! I need all I can get, and them some. Thanks for listening and Peace be with you, Kassey


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