Today’s readings draw us into the daily circus of knowing the appropriateness of things, going for the right measures of the most beneficial goods and sharing our material goods with the needy. The 1st reading contemplates the enigma of life and how all turn to vanity when we make them an end in itself. The original meaning of the word “vanity “is ‘a gust of wind’ reflecting the fleeting nature of riches. The spiritual goods we acquire by sharing our material goods with the needy are true riches in the eyes of God and will serve us as provisions for our journey towards God.
St. Gregory the Great taught that when we care for the needs of the poor, we are giving them what is theirs, not ours. We are not just performing works of mercy; we are paying a debt of justice. Life does not consist in possessions but in sharing what we possess with others. The goods of the earth have been given to everyone.
This is what Jesus meant when he warned us against “storing up treasures for ourselves, instead of making ourselves rich in the sight of God” (Lk.12:21).By giving and giving ourselves, we make treasures in heaven and become rich in the sight of God. We have the duty of reaching –out, extending –hands, to empathize with others. In the parable of the rich fool, two things clearly stand out: The ‘rich fool’ never saw beyond himself. The aggressive pronouns “I, my, mine” are mostly found in whirlpool of self-centeredness. In the contrary, life presents us with the truth that for there to be any meaningful progress, we have to grow beyond the confines of my givenness, thereness and fallenness into a more inclusive climate of the pursuit of “our common good”. Let us therefore search our minds and bring to spotlight those shady parts of our lives that define the world and success only from the yardstick of the “self”. Secondly, the rich fool “never saw beyond this world”. His world was so large that it could find a place only in the protected territory of his barn, bank, investment and worldly cares. But the man who never realizes that there is another world is destined someday to the greatest surprise and grimmest of unimaginable shocks. The inestimable greatness of God can supply all our needs in Christ Jesus, according to his riches in glory. Today, Jesus ministers to a good number of us who shift from the urgency of serving God in our community to taking counts on how they are the most successful, the mightiest and most learned.
Contrary to what people think, Jesus isn’t knocking the acquisition of wealth nor the zest for private enterprise, rather, he was knocking the foolish idea that some people have of placing greater importance on laying up material treasures than on laying up spiritual treasures. We concretely violate the priority Jesus speaks about when we acquire wealth at the expense of becoming dishonest, when we acquire power at the expense of becoming ruthless, when we acquire reputation in the community at the expense of neglecting our own family. We grossly violate Jesus priority when we acquire a huge chunk of world’s passing treasures at the expense of losing eternal treasures in heaven. When a man clothes his soul with the garments of honor, purity and goodness, nothing can injure them. Let us therefore seek the treasures of heaven by investing our time, treasure and talents in our community for the sake of God and posterity. We are to tell ourselves that we must never allow our riches to define us or set bounds of exclusion in the face of God and people.