A world of disappointment
We begin with the classic words of Ecclesiastes (1:2; 2:21-23):
Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!
Here is one who has labored
with wisdom and knowledge and skill,
and yet to another who has not labored over it,
he must leave property.
This also is vanity and a great misfortune.
For what profit comes to man
from all the toil and anxiety of heart
with which he has labored under the sun?
All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation;
even at night his mind is not at rest.
This also is vanity.
In today’s Gospel (Luke 12:13-21) our Lord is doubly forceful on the foolishness of focusing on material possessions.
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus,
“Teacher, tell my brother
to share the inheritance with me.”
He replied to him,
“Friend, who appointed me
as your judge and arbitrator?”
Then he said to the crowd,
“Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
Then he told them a parable.
“There was a rich man
whose land produced a bountiful harvest.
He asked himself, ‘What shall I do,
for I do not have space to store my harvest?’
And he said, ‘This is what I shall do:
I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
There I shall store all my grain and other goods
and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you,
you have so many good things
stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’
But God said to him,
this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared,
to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be
for all who store up treasure for themselves
but are not rich in what matters to God.”
And in today’s second reading (Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11), St. Paul reinforces where the focus of our earthly lives should be.
If you were raised with Christ,
seek what is above,
where Christ is seated
at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above,
not of what is on earth.
For you have died,
and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.
Put to death, then,
the parts of you that are earthly:
passion, evil desire,
and the greed that is idolatry.
Stop lying to one another,
since you have taken off
the old self with its practices
and have put on the new self,
which is being renewed, for knowledge,
in the image of its creator.
The world will always disappoint us, sooner or late, but if we live our lives in this world faithful to Christ, our happiness is assured.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.