Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 31
Do You and I Treasure God the Same Way God Treasures Us? Do We Long for Him As Much As He Longs for Us?
We hear words of caution given to us by our Lord in today’s Gospel, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
Our Readings for today all underscore one important point, something which we all know only too well – namely, that our life here on this side of the eternal is temporary, that you and I have only so much time left.
And for all of God’s children who embrace a life of faith, we have come to know and understand that this life, which is a wonderful gift from God, is truly a “waiting room”, if you will, a room in which we prepare ourselves for what awaits us on the other side of that eternal threshold.
While we stand in this “waiting room”, prayerfully preparing ourselves for the day when God will call us, we continue to grow in our understanding of what God is asking of us here and now, and how we are to respond to His invitation.
We hear the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes telling us, “…vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” At first glance, this well-known saying sounds very pessimistic.
However, when we look at the context in which we find it, the author is giving to us a very sobering yet genuine perspective on life’s pursuits, not on life itself. What a person builds over a lifetime can be left in an instant to another who does no work at all!
In this respect, all his efforts at building up material wealth is truly in vain – when we look at it from the mind of God, when we begin to understand it from God’s perspective. And it is from this perspective that our Lord, in today’s Gospel, gives us the “parable of the rich fool.”
Jesus tells His audience about a man who builds bigger and bigger buildings to store his wealth. But those barns will be owned by someone else when he dies that very night. And those who listened to our Lord understood His point about vain hope.
Our lives today are basically no different. There are many in this world who walk blindly through life, building up wealth for themselves. However, it is important to understand that wealth in itself is not an evil, for God is the giver of all good gifts.
It is only when we begin to fall in love with the wealth – or worse yet, to worship it, to depend upon it as if it could protect us, could give us life or could bring us happiness – wherein we begin to lose sight of where our TRUE wealth should surely lie.
Even I fell victim to the lure of material riches. Decades ago, when I was much younger and CEO of my second company, I found myself taking pride in my many accomplishments. I dressed for success wearing three-piece suits, drove an expensive car – all for the purpose of appearing successful so that clients would have confidence in the services my company provided.
My success only served to feed my bank accounts, my ambitions and my pride. I was the quintessential example of “…vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!”
At that time in my life, I refused to face the truth in Paul’s words to Timothy, “…the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith…” And I failed to live up to what we read about in our Second Reading today, from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, “…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.”
I did not recognize what it meant to be buried with Christ – to die to sin and to live in holiness. My life was more focused on the here and now, rather than what might await me later. And if God had called me at that time, I shudder to think where I might have ended up!
Today, as I look at my life in hindsight, I can see the hand God patiently guiding me away from a life of greed which had been my idolatry, as Paul tells us today. Financial success and fame had been my gods.
Unbeknownst to me, I had fallen in love with my idolatry, and in that was my sin! Yet, our Lord, who is the Good Shepherd, who constantly seeks out His lost sheep, slowly and patiently guided me back into the fold – as He does with each one of us – if only we would open the eyes and ears of our hearts to His gentle guidance.
He brings each of us, you and me, to a greater understanding of where our eyes need to be focused, so that, as Paul tells us today –
“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: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.”
God invites each of us to a share in His Life, but He leaves it up to us to be changed, to be transformed. It is up to us to put off our old lives of self-centeredness and sin, so that you and I can be clothed with Jesus’ own love, kindness, compassion and humility.
To put it simply, it is a matter of our choosing to turn to Jesus in prayer, and then working to conform our hearts to His, working to conform our minds and our way of thinking to His.
In all reality, it is a matter of facing our everyday decisions with faith and trust in God, asking Him to lead us and guide us, so that, with the help of His grace, our transformation may be one from self-interest and self-centeredness to one of self-sacrifice and selflessness, so that our transformation may be one from sinfulness to righteousness.
The choices we make in life are truly ours, for God will not take away His gift to us of free will. We can either follow the path which leads to destruction and death, or we can choose to follow the path which leads to spiritual fulfillment and life. Do we choose self or do we choose God!?
Jesus teaches us with words today which strike at the very heart of the matter, “Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.” For our Lord never fails to beckon to us, reaching out to us with His Love. In the parable which we hear in today’s Gospel, Jesus probes our heart – where is our treasure?
Treasure has a special connection to the heart, the place of desire and longing, the place of will and focus. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. What do you and I treasure above all else?
As we grow older and wiser, we begin to understand how important our relationship with God truly is to us, for we begin to realize that the time we have left in this “waiting room” is growing shorter and shorter!
And in our life of faith, a journey which each of us makes from the “womb to the tomb”, we come to a realization that God truly treasures each of us, and longs for us to be with Him.
Do you and I treasure Him the same way? Do we long for Him as much as He longs for us? For the sake of our eternal salvation, I truly pray so, for God does not desire to lose any one of us!
And may you and I, in our continuing pilgrimage through this life, truly be “rich in what matters to God”!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
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Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “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.’” (Luke 12:15)
- “Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity! What profit have we from all the toil which we toil at under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3)
- “For here is one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill, and that one’s legacy must be left to another who has not toiled for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.” (Ecclesiastes 2:21)
- “For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains.” (1 Timothy 6:10)
- “…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.” (Colossians 3:1-2)
- “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: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Because of these the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient.” (Colossians 3:4-6)
- “Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.” (Luke 12:21)
- “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
- “Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart…Fill us at daybreak with your mercy, that all our days we may sing for joy.” (Psalm 90:12, 14)
Prayer for the Day
“Lord God, Creator of Heaven and Earth,
You called us out of nothingness,
and created us in Your own Image.
You filled us with Your own life-giving Spirit,
inviting us to have a share in Your own Divinity,
so that we may be called Your spiritual sons and daughters.
“We thank You for the gift of life
and for the blessings You bestow upon us this day.
Help us to always stand in awe
at the Presence of Your Holy Majesty,
so that we may always sing the praises of Your glory
in all that we do throughout life.
“Truly, all things come from You,
And everything that is – was once nothing.
From the depths of Your Infinite Love,
You called us into being as Your children.
“We worship You, O Lord,Anonymous
from the very depths of our existence,
for, in all that we are, we forever owe to You!
For You are truly our one and only Treasure in life and in eternity. Amen.”