Sunday: 18 th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Date: July 31, 2016. Year: C The readings: [Ecc. 1:2; 2:21-23; Col. 3:1-5, 9-11; Lk. 12:13-21] The message: Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. Prepared by: Catholic Doors Ministry. Total words: 1067
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"And the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God." [Lk. 12:20-1] Today's Reading from the Gospel of Luke teaches us that life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. A rich and meaningful life cannot be drawn out of an abundance of material possessions.
On this date, throughout the world, there will be a variety of reactions towards today's Gospel Reading. For some, the reading shall come as a shock. For they believe that all what counts in their lives is the accumulation of their assets, their houses, their properties, their financial investments, their cars, their cottages, their boats, etc...
Some will be deeply touched. They will perceive a calling. Consequently, they will sell all their possessions and they will join a religious Order so they can accumulate spiritual riches.
And some, among the extremely rich, to enjoy their wealth at a later time, they will have their bodies frozen immediately following their deaths in the hope of being resurrected at a later time when a cure can be found for their ills.
Some, after the celebration of the Holy Mass, they will go home and start working on their Last Will. They will attempt to determine to who their wealth should be distributed, sorting the wise from the fools. Then they will hope that after their death, their wish will be carried out, no one challenging their Last Will in a Court of Law.
For others, the Word of God entered one ear and went out the other one. They failed to perceive the spiritual wisdom of God in the reading.
Considering all of these different reactions, it is obvious that possessions, although they are transient, worthless and empty, they have a strange influence on the human mind.
Today's First Reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes questioned what we as mortal get from all the toil and strain that we endure under the sun, when at death, we must leave everything behind for someone else to enjoy it. [Ecc. 2:21-23] These people, they did not work for all that wealth that they inherit. That is "vanity" in the sense of "worthlessness." What good is something if we cannot enjoy it? It is no different then the rich man who build large barns to store all his grain and his goods, in the hope of relaxing, eating, drinking and being merry. Then, on that very night, his life was demanded of him. [Lk. 12:18-9]
In view of this, there is a reason to detest our hard labour. It is because we cannot take it with us, having to leave it to a heir.
It is different for those who toil for spiritual labour. Their recompense is being accumulated in Heaven, their rewards awaiting them on judgment day. Their spiritual treasures will never depart from them. Today's Second Reading affirms this. We heard the advise of Saint Paul who said in His Letter to the Colossians, "Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." [Col. 3:1]
Having been raised with Christ, in Him, we find the perfect image of God. Jesus is the perfect pattern of life for we who have been baptized. He is our reason for continuously seeking an interior renovation in His image as the new man.
Christ is the head of a new humanity, the Christian community. Through Him, all the social barriers no longer stand between the people. Races, cultures, or state of life no longer divide the people. There are no barrier in gender, male or female; in age, being young or old; in status, one being rich or poor; in medical conditions, one being healthy or sick, or even one being free or in prison. Christ breaks down such distinctions. He is all and in all. [Col. 3:11] Christ is all that matters.
Now, since life does not consist in the abundance of possessions, how do we accumulate spiritual treasures in Heaven? We accumulate spiritual treasures in Heaven by our acts of love towards others, by our acts of charity, through the goodness that we manifest towards our neighbours in the love of Jesus. What we do to others, we do to Christ.
In the Gospel of Matthew, we read the Sacred Words of Jesus where it says, "just as you do it to one of the least, you are members of my family, you did it to me." [Mt. 19:40] "I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me." [Mt. 19:35-6]
Such actions accumulate treasures in Heaven; they are credited to our names. Such actions accumulate spiritual treasures that will be rewarded one day.
Are there other ways of accumulating treasures in Heaven? Yes, there are! By giving alms, your deeds are recorded in Heaven. By helping the elders to get to Church on Sunday or by providing them with transportation so they can do their weekly shopping of groceries, such deeds are recorded in Heaven. By helping the handicaps with their special needs or by being a friend to the orphans, God will notice your goodness. These are just a few examples of many ways through which we can manifest love towards Jesus by manifesting love towards our neighbours.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." [Mt. 6:19-21]
This week, by the grace of the Heavenly Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the Most Holy Name of Jesus, let us move forward in our spiritual growth with a new commitment. May our new commitment be to accumulate as many treasures in Heaven as we can. In the end, we can rest assured that we will not regret it.
"Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
Sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.
What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity." [Ecc. 1:2; 2:21-23]
Brothers and sisters: "So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly, fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.
In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all." [Col. 3:1-5, 9-11]
"Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, 'Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.' But Jesus said to him, 'Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?'
And Jesus said to the crowd, 'Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possession.'
Then Jesus told them a parable: 'The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'I will do this; I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.'
But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.'" [Lk. 12:13-21]