What Matters to God
18th Ordinary Sunday: Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:21-23; Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 12:13-21
Ecclesiastes, from which the first reading is drawn, makes the famous statement, “Vanity of vanities!” In Hebrew this mode of expression is used as a superlative, as in Holy of Holies, and King of Kings.
The text continues, “All things are vanity!” The author insists on this thought. Jesus, In the Gospel, says much the same in his parable, “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?”
In a limited, more specific way, Mary at La Salette twice notes the futility of human efforts: “You will never be able to recompense the pains I have taken for you,” and “If you have wheat, you must not sow it.”
Paul writes to the Christians of Colossae, who seem to be struggling with their own vanities. “Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Stop lying to one another.”
He calls them to continued conversion: “Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” This parallels the conclusion of today’s Gospel, where Jesus warns us not to be like “all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”
Reflecting on all this, one could get discouraged. Don’t we have the right work in view of improving our situation? Is everything we do meaningless?
That cannot be. In another letter, in fact, Paul reminded the Thessalonians: “We instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.”
So, we are not insinuating that one must not labor. But we have a responsibility to be prudent stewards, properly directing or redirecting our labors, our lives back to the one who created us and called us to his service.
Here let us remember the Beautiful Lady’s injunction to pray well. In the morning we can offer our day’s work to God, and at night give thanks for what we have been able to accomplish, and, during the day, say a prayer before we begin any work. All things are vanity only if we fail to do them for the glory of God.
Fr. René Butler, M.S. and Wayne Vanasse