To be rich in the sight of God rather than in the sight of men: this is the invitation that the Liturgy of this 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time invites us to.
Newsroom (02/08/2022 08:30, Gaudium Press) “Vanity of vanities, says Ecclesiastes, all is vanity...” (Eccl 1:2) Man’s life is suffering; his occupation, a torment. Not even in the night does his heart rest. This too is vanity” (Eccl 1:2; 2:23).
What then are things worth, if all is vanity? Is this not an exaggeration on the part of the sacred author? “Certainly,” many would reply. But who inspired this work? If the inspiration is the Divine Holy Spirit, then why so much (supposed) pessimism? The liturgy of this 18th Sunday will provide us with the answer.
Aspire to heavenly things
Everything in this life has its course and its time: growth, strengthening, invigoration, all of which soon wear out and deteriorate, and begin to wither away. So it is with the green grass, as the psalm sings:
“They are like the green grass through the fields: in the morning it flourishes luxuriantly, but in the evening it is cut down and soon withers away” (Ps 89).
So it is also with men, for “they pass away like the sleep of the morning” (Ps 89). Their life fades away like the green grass; it soon fades away. And what good have his days and his concern for the goods of this world done him?
To better understand Ecclesiastes, we could modify the question asked earlier: what are earthly things worth in comparison with heavenly things? If someone becomes accustomed to spending his whole life putting human and earthly things above Heaven, his actions are nothing but pure vanity! The great Apostle of the Gentiles, St. Paul, appeals in his letter to the Colossians:
“Aspire to heavenly things and not to earthly things. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:2-3).
What must die in us?
“Put to death what belongs to the earth: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col 3:5).
And also with so many other evils that exist in our century… We must strip ourselves of the old man, that is, of sin, and put on the new man (cf. Col 3:9-10), in the likeness of Jesus.
The eternal inheritance
Today’s Gospel presents a parable narrated by the Divine Master on the occasion of an appeal made by someone in the crowd:
“Teacher, tell my brother to share his inheritance with me” (Lk 12:13).
How many would not be ready to suffer a thousand sacrifices to have a contact with our Lord, to see Him, to exchange a few words with Him, to make a request?! This man, however, who had the opportunity to beg Him to take him to the road that leads to the heavenly dwellings, comes and asks Him to buy earthly goods that are lost like the grasses of the field!
But Jesus, rich in mercy, desires to open his eyes. He tells him the story of a man who acquired for his land a large amount of food, where he could store his belongings. Thus he could enjoy and enjoy his life for long years. However, behold, God says to him:
“Fool! Even this night, they will ask for your life back. And to whom will be left what you have accumulated? So it is with those who store up for themselves treasures, but are not rich in the sight of God” (Lk 12:20-21).
Poor man! He, who came to ask for dominion over earthly goods, received in exchange an invitation to take possession of an eternal inheritance. Did he accept? We do not know.
We must pray to obtain fidelity, to be faithful to this invitation that the Good Jesus makes to us today, to be rich in His eyes, rather than in the eyes of men.
Compiled by Sandra Chisholm