Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23. Do not bet your life on the house. There’s more to the good life than goods.
Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17. Time passes quickly and flesh is like grass. What lasts is friendship with God.
Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11. Appearances are deceptively divisive because we live in the hidden-ness of Christ.
Luke 12:13-21. We make plans for the future based on certitudes which are far from certain.
The continuing events of recent days and the suffering and violence experienced by so many, including the attacks on innocent patients in Japan and a Holy, defenseless priest celebrating Mass in France, and so many more horrific actions reminds us yet again that people can use their great gifts and resources for the purposes of great harm and suffering, or people can use their creativity and their talents, their time and their planning to do enormous good. It is quite clear that God implores us to do good and to use our time and our energy and our plans and schemes to make the world a better, more compassionate, more tolerant and more loving place. let us never lose sight of the fact that whilst there is no doubt that many acts of cowardice and destruction occur regularly in our world, there are far more acts of kindness and compassion and selflessness. Many of these good actions, which restore our faith in humanity, can get overlooked and forgotten when things go wrong. Many countless acts of kindess and love are so ordinary that they will never reach the front page of our news services, but this does not take away from their value.
The first reading this weekend (Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23), is rather sobering and poignant, almost depressing. The writer is bemoaning the vanity and futility that goes with some of our earthly strivings. It is not meant to depress us, though, or to bog us down. Instead, these words are meant to “snap us out” of our torpor and back into reality. Some of the things we can be tempted to spend an enormous amount of our time, energy and resources on will produce limited fruits and some of very questionable quality.
I cannot help thinking of news reports in recent years of financial disasters that affected many everyday people; ordinary mum and dad investors who put a large slab of their life savings into what looked like fruitful and fairly solid company investments only to watch everything they had worked for; (all they were saving up for a nice retirement), just evaporate overnight when those investments went bust. It is absolutely unimaginable. The suffering and pain is palpable as they realized that all the hard work and striving of their working years was effectively gone. So they could be forgiven for thinking they had worked all that time for nothing! They had toiled in vain. Might they have said, “I could have had a part time job all my life for all I now have to show for it.” Hopefully many might be able to recover from their terrible predicament. Recent news shows that some victims, after a very, very long legal fight have managed to get something back in compensation for their terrible losses. So, it is great to hear some good news sequels. And also, their work over those many years did provide for them and their families, and the pride and effort they put into their vocation would surely have produced enormous spiritual fruits and satisfaction, for in a vocation we do not just work for a living, but all our strivings are also put at the service of God’s grace too. In any case, our hearts go out to those whose toil (from a merely financial perspective’) appears to have been in vain……….
We reflect on all the Fruits that do not last beyond this life and which might not be worth all the effort. So we are invited, as Paul says in the second reading, (Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11), to keep our eyes on the ‘things of heaven’ – the things that last… and to avoid merely earthly desires.
The gospel today is very challenging too. All the parables Jesus told are meant to be challenging and jarring. They are meant to unsettle us and turn upside-down our expectations. And this parable is particularly unnerving…
It seems quite sensible to plan for one’s future and to ensure against a rainy day. It is wise to save up for the future and for a comfortable life. Many people do it. It is considered prudent. So, why is this man in the parable this weekend considered to be unwise??… Why is he considered ‘foolish’? He is called a fool not just by ANYONE… but by God himself…. If God calls someone a fool, then surely they must be the worst kind of fool!
Jesus tells this story not to people who are foolish. Neither does he tell this story to people whose lives are actually about to end (one hopes for a long life, but life is short and unpredictable and so one never really knows)…. So rather, this Gospel is directed at people who Our Lord hopes are sensible, and who are also open and loving people, with resources at their disposal and who (God willing) have a long healthy life ahead. And he is inviting them to trust in God’s providence and care and use their resources for the good of others now at this time and in this place. It is no good to worry only about all the endless possible future needs, which may never come to be. It is good to be sensible and to save for a rainy day, but not at the expense of our commitment to others whose needs are right here and right now and are all-too-real and immediate! Jesus seems to want to make sure we are not stopped from being generous because of unreasonable fear and over-protection for events that may never come.
In the parable, “God intervenes to show the man how foolish and misguided his plans are. This does not mean that in the next life he is condemned to hell…** It does not suggest that at all. Rather, the point here is to be clear about the priorities we make in this life so that we respond to the meaning of life itself. Jesus rejects the accumulation of riches for oneself because it is not in accordance with God’s will of selfless and generous loving service towards God and others.** This is so important that our priorities are encouraged to always keep this in mind.
That rich man thinks only of himself. He even talks to himself. This man also works for himself and stores food for himself. It is mean! It is lonely! It is a distorted world-view where he is trapped in a very selfish and isolated world of his own making. Rather, Jesus reminds us that we are in union with others around us. We are actually diminished as people if our purposes and actions do not go beyond self-satisfaction. This foolish man lets his fear and self-focus absorb him completely…
…… In a way., we already know what a good ending to this parable would be….
The rich man has a good year and he is so happy that he says to himself and those around him, “this is a wonderful year. God has blessed us. Quick, tell others to come along and take some grain. Let us share it, for I want all of us to celebrate in this wonderful blessing, so that we might all have some more, and have a bit for a rainy day too. Then God will come to him and say, well done my good and faithful servant, you have made yourself rich in my sight, now enter into your inheritance. We know that God will do this because other parables of the kingdom show that kind of situation. And this vision fills our hearts with joy….
This is how the man could make himself rich in the sight of God. May our love, gratitude, generosity, service and care for others flow out in gracious care and compassion for others. May we use our gifts for the good of all; for the greater good of God’s Kingdom…
Fr Paul W. Kelly
**SHARING THE WORD THROUGH THE LITURGICAL YEAR. GUSTAVO GUTIERREZ.
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Eighteenth Sunday of the Year C
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault,* through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.
1. We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection, until you come again.
2. When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.
3. Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free.
Preparation of the Gifts
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.
Blessed be God for ever.
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink.
Blessed be God for ever.
Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God,
the almighty Father.
May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.
Sundays Ordinary VIII p.32
Euch prayer III p.58
Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.