It was the end of a long journey, but they got the prize. Indiana Jones had found the Holy Grail after navigating several obstacles, meeting the Guardian of the Grail, and choosing the right one wisely from the many possibilities. He was able to get to his wounded father in time to heal him of a gunshot wound. As the group was standing around in their success, the Nazi archeologist decided to take the Grail out of the underground citadel where they found it.
Of course, she wasn’t supposed to do that. A huge earthquake tore a gash in the floor, and she was hanging by the lip of a crevasse, hanging by one hand, the Grail inches away. Indy grabbed her hand and tried to pull her up, telling her she needed to give him her other hand. But she insisted in reaching for the Grail, loosing her grips and falling to her doom, almost pulling Indy in after her. Then it was Indiana hanging from the edge, and his father holding on to him, and the Grail just out of reach.
Indiana wanted the sacred vessel badly, and kept reaching for it. His father told him to bring up his other hand, saying: “Junior, I can’t hold you by one hand.” Indiana kept trying until his father said: “Indiana, let go of the Grail.”
That got Indy’s attention, partly because it was the first time his father called him Indiana, but mostly his father, who had searched for the Grail his entire life, was telling him to let go of this priceless thing. He thought about it for a long moment, then he swung his other hand up. The man was able to let go of something in order to live.
There was very clear teaching in Jesus’ time about dealing with abundance. There were laws saying the poor had the right to pick from the leftovers. Farmers weren’t supposed to harvest to the edges of the field, or pick up fruit that fell from the trees, so the poor would have access to this. Anything beyond a reasonable harvest was to be offered up and shared with those who had none; there was no social safety net in those days, so this was the only way many could live. There was no system to play to get undeserved benefits.
The Rich Man of the parable could be a businessman today. He needs more space, so he creates it. He sees a chance to retire early, so he takes us. This could be you or me, I’d be tempted like this if I got a windfall. His crime is he’s only thinking of himself, and not of others, not of his own family or of the world around him. In the middle of the night, the Angel of God shows him the challenge of any wealth: you can’t take it with you, and when you’re gone, your bankroll is useless to you.
Greed is the dominant sin of our times. We don’t really intend evil when we take care of ourselves, it’s just tempting to pile up more and more to be certain we’re all right before we think of anyone or anything else. But our possessions can possess us, become the first priority in our lives, make us think of keeping what we’ve got before anything else. The needs of others doesn’t hit the radar, nor the question of how much is enough. The needs of others can become someone else’s problem because we feel we aren’t secure enough.
Jesus shows us the opposite of Greed: He gives Himself to us completely without a regard for Himself. Every week we receive Him in the Eucharist, hear His word in our hearts. Jesus teaches us that our wealth is in our concern for others, and nothing is more valuable than love, which cannot be bought. We are rich without working for it in Christ, and we’re called to spend those riches on those Christ loves, which are worth more than an relic or sacred object.
The way of life is about letting go. The German archeologist in the Indiana Jones movie couldn’t let go of the Holy Grail and it cost her. Indy was able to let go, and he lived. When we’re clinging to life with one hand, dangling over the crevasse of danger, can we let go of the Grail? What are we able to let go of in order to grasp Jesus with both hands?