August 1: 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Readings: Ecc 1:2,2:21-23; Col 3:1-5,9-11; Lk 12:13-21
The readings this Sunday help us to understand the how to relate to material possessions. We are first guided by the snap shots in the First Reading from the Book of Ecclesiates. The reading starts of with: “Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” Yes, ALL things. The writer of this book helps us to take a good look at what life is really about. The concern for things is vanity, like the smoke or the mist that evaporate and disappear so quickly. We may labor, fret and sweat, but at the end of the day, for what. That is the question behind this passage in the first reading. One day as I watched a TCL TV episode series tittled “Hoarding: Burries Alive”, a man who hoards was asked by an interviewer what he would need to take out if his house was on fire. His response was that there was nothing he would need to take with him. He had been laboring for nothing, simply accumulating possesions. The parable of the rich fool in the Gospel goes deeper into the question of what life is really about for us as Christians; as followers of Jesus Christ. As Jesus is teaching, someone in the crowd asks Him to intervene in a family inheritance conflict. But Jesus goes to the real issue in the heart of that person – greed. “Take care to guard again all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” The person must have been surprised by that response that hit right on his hidden problem. In a world, driven by consumerism, this is a hard lesson to learn because we are constantly prompted to buy and accumulate things that we probably do not need. Family inheritence conflicts are on the increase, not to mention the issue of “land grabbing” by the rich and powerful.
Through a very well thought out parable, Jesus leads us to discover that what really matters most is God not possessions. As the preacher tells us in the first reading, to try to hold on to possessions, prestige, wealth, land and health is ultimately foolish. That is why the Gospel invites us to trust in God so completely that our possessions do not dominate us. The point of the parable is clear. Possessions do not guarantee life. Indeed they may make us so blind that we do not see what really matters most in life. The story of the Rich Fool in the Gospel is a good example that material wealth could make us short-sighted. The man, in accumulating so much wealth, thought he had actually secured his life. But alas! Death comes suddenly, ending his life and the man leaves all that wealth behind, having rejected God in his life. The man in parable tried to drag Jesus into his own inheritance struggle. We note that Jesus refuses to be dragged into that family dispute, probably because Jesus knows the real motive behind the man's request: the thirst and love for more money and property. The man was under the influence of the values of this world. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) In a world that tends to favour a culture of materialism and affluence, the gospel presents a different set of values that lead us to discover what really matters most in life. 2) All the values of this world are vanity, as compared to the values of the Gospel. 3) Paul in the second reading, reminds us why we must choose the values of the gospel. "If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above....Think of what is above, not what is on earth.". In other words, Christ is the highest possession we can have. 4) At the end of the day, the bottom line is that one’s life does not consist in greed for material possessions but in our desire to possess Jesus Christ.
2010 John S. Mbinda