Entrance Antiphon: Ps 70(69):2, 6 — “O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me! You are my rescuer, my help; O Lord, do not delay.”
First Reading: Ecc 1:2; 2:21-23 — “What profit comes to a man from all his toil?”
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13 — “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”
Second Reading: Col 3:1-5, 9-11 — “Seek what is above, where Christ is.”
Alleluia: Mt 5:3 — Alleluia, alleluia. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Lk 12:13-21 — “The things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?”
Communion Antiphon: Wis 16:20 — “You have given us, O Lord, bread from heaven, endowed with all delights and sweetness in every taste.”
The word “vanity” means different things to different people. Some think of the bathroom counter. Others think of it as a preoccupation with one’s physical appearance. According to Qoheleth, who wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes, vanity defines worthless and futile pursuits: Vanity of vanities, all things are vanity. Qoheleth lived among a people so intent on the pursuit of wealth and possessions that they became forgetful of God, and of goodness. He asserts that nothing but sorrow and grief come from our earthly labors – far better for us to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven.
Speaking to the Colossians, Saint Paul couldn’t agree more, telling us to “seek what is above … not of what is on earth.” He, too, saw people so bogged down with everyday stresses and anxieties that they had lost sight of who they were and what they were called to be. “Put earthly parts to death, take off the old self and put on the new self,” the Apostle states. We are called upon to part with the sins and selfishness of our past and concentrate on the pursuit of eternal life. He promises that we who die with Christ in baptism will one day appear with Him in glory. Telling us that our true identity is hidden from us, as is our future fate, we are encouraged to find our true selves by uniting more closely to Jesus.
In the Gospel of Saint Luke, Jesus warns against greed and gluttony, reminding us that “one’s life does not consist of possessions,” but in the spiritual treasures we store up for ourselves by doing good and seeking justice.
Jesus uses the all-too-familiar parable of the wealthy landowner building bigger barns for his harvest to show us that what we have here is not making the journey with us to the afterlife. All it takes is one swift wind to knock down those barns and scatter the grains like dust across the countryside. It would have been far better for this man, who had been so blessed, to share his wealth, especially with the hungry and the homeless, the widow and the orphan. Jesus then points out the moral of the story by saying, woe to those who “store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”
So ask yourselves this: What does matter to God? How much money we have or how much property or other stuff we own? Accolades we may have received? It may have more to do with how much we are willing to share with others than how much we can keep for ourselves. What matters most to God is our faith, our hope, and our charity ... to use another word ... our love ... and how we use these virtues to benefit our brothers and sisters. So much of our time and attention is devoted to work, financial matters, and recreation, as I’ve said over the last few weeks, there appears that in today’s society, there is little time left for prayer. The landowner’s sudden demise is a sign for us that we will face the judgment day at a time we least expect. Our degrees and property holdings will not speak for us on that day, only how much love we shared with those around us ... and something else to consider. Someone once said that God will measure the amount of love we had for the person in our lives we liked the least as the measure of our worthiness for heaven.
Jesus owned nothing. He was a prince who lived like a pauper – born in someone else’s barn and buried in somebody else’s tomb. Everything He did have He gave for us including His life – to break the chains of sin, Satan and death – forever and for everyone. In order to live like Jesus, we have to learn to give like Jesus and to love like Jesus, not counting the cost. Yes, Christ came with nothing and left with nothing, but gained everything in the process – for Himself and for us. He did it because He loves us. What we do for love of Him will help us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him, and hopefully to one day be joined to Him forever in heaven.