July 31st Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time c

Introduction

“Vanity of vanities all is vanity”. Our first reading says undue toil for this world’s goods is foolishness. Paul also says that our thoughts should be on heavenly things. And Christ in the gospel says accumulated wealth will be of no use when our soul is required of us. Lets confess any sins of greed in our life..

Homily

Once I bought a site for a house. Marking it for the fencer I made sure I got every inch I was entitled to. Then the fencer sobered me by saying: “a few feet of earth is all we’ll have in the end”. He was teaching this Sunday’s lesson, the foolishness of making a God of this world’s possessions. Its a lesson important for today, when many unduly focus on worldly fame and riches. Look how popular the series: “The Money Game” is. We’ve certainly bought into the American dream whereby personal success is measured by our bank balance. A luxury home, money in the bank and a new 4-by-4 jeep seemed the main measure of success during the boom. Often with this went binges on drugs, drink and casual sex. There’s nothing wrong of course with enjoying this world’s goods, its why God gave them to us. Nor am I condemning a good standard of living, its what all in this world should have. The Pharisees called Christ a glutton and a wine-drinker. Its the way riches can take us over, make is hard of heart, that’s dangerous.

I’m not talking about puritan anti-materialism. What I’m saying is enjoy life but get your priorities right. “What does it profit a man or woman if they gain the whole world but suffer the loss of their souls”; once we have enough let’s not become slaves of wealth; what’s more important is making a difference by lives of service of God and others. This world is short-lived and at death and the end of time its our souls that will be required of us. Life is short but the next one’s forever, so its wiser to build treasure in heaven. We carry nothing with us into the grave except our faith and the good we have done in life, the love we have shown. Like the man who built huge barns in the gospel we can only eat three meals a day or sleep in one bed at night.

People in every age fail to see this truth. They focus on material wealth, greed and pleasure to the exclusion of God, others and more important things in life such as love and humanity. They sell their immortal souls like Judas for the world’s tawdry toys. They make money their god and greed their faith. Today’s readings issue a direct challenge to such futile and empty philosophy. “Fool”, the gospel says, “this night your soul may be required of you”. We may be walking across the road and be knocked down, or suddenly get terminal cancer. What use will our big cars and houses be then. We must have the wisdom to both enjoy this life, and see at the same time where more lasting treasure is. As my mother used to say, quoting Augustine, “we have not here a lasting city”. Or as someone said to me during the week, there is no hitch on the hearse. When we’re judged on the last day Christ will ask about our charity not our bank balance.

But even for our happiness is this world, making material things our all is foolish. Wise couples soon find out that giving their children love is much more important than costly toys. Spending time with their children is more important than working day and night. Nourishing their faith by practice is more important that sleeping in on Sunday. That’s why Jesus begs us to make ourself rich in the sight of God and else will follow. These riches deepen our spiritual life, give wisdom and depth to our lives in this world too; they fill the void of emptiness and loneliness within. And when the things of this world fade to dust at last they give lasting peace and happiness with the Lord of life, forever and ever, amen. So as God’s people, enjoying life’s good things but seeking also the greater treasures of heaven to make us rich unto eternity, lets profess our faith..

Prayers of the Faithful

And as the people of God lets pray for the riches of his kingdom

For the Pope, while seeking a world where no one goes hungry, may he may also remind us that man doesn’t live on bread alone..

For civil leaders that while fostering the material welfare of the people, they may also continue to leave the church free to cater for people’s even more vital spiritual needs.

For youth that they may not be so caught up in the things of this world so as to neglect what’s really important, love, faith, goodness and the salvation of their immortal souls..

For ourselves in our home, community and country that we may not let the vanity of the world close us off from God and others..

For the sick that their faith may enable them to bear all suffering and turn it into riches like Christ by offering it up for their own salvation and that of the whole world..

For the dead that they may come to the more lasting riches of heaven with the help of our powerful community prayers..

And we ask all these prayers through Christ who intercedes for us forever before the Father, amen.

Reflection

“Vanity of Vanities and all is vanity”, is one of the catch phrases from the Bible. It sums up a lot of our modern world. We’re bombarded every day on TV with ads for cosmetics, shampoos, hair sprays. Hey presto, we’re told, these will transform us into beautiful people. We should care for outward appearance, but not to the point of obsession, for real beauty is within. A fine appearance is important to attract, but it will not last if it isn’t backed up by more lasting inner qualities; otherwise beauty is skin deep. Lets seek more than empty vanity then and see and find true lasting beauty and happiness in Christ..Hail Mary

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