Bulletin: August 4, 2019
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s readings invite us to reflect upon some of life’s deepest questions, and to explore the meaning of faith. We hear of the universal human search for meaning in our lives in the book of Ecclesiastes. In Luke’s Gospel, we hear Jesus’ parable about one who foolishly seeks ultimate security through the accumulation of wealth. In Colossians, faith in the crucified and resurrected Christ is proclaimed as the path to a richly purposeful and meaningful life. The path of Christian faith places our work, our sufferings, and our limitations within the larger picture of God’s purposes for all of us. In Jesus, God is revealed as our companion in human suffering and limitation. God’s love is at the center of a meaningful life. We place our trust in this loving God, who created us to share in this love, and to share this love with others.
ENCOUNTERING OUR LIMITATIONS
The author of Ecclesiastes, who is identified as Qoheleth (or “teacher”), draws a disturbing picture about the value of human life and of human effort. “All things are vanity” suggests that everything that we do is transient, frail, and perhaps meaningless. Qoheleth explores deep questions about life with blunt honesty, and he rejects superficial answers. Just as in the Psalms, and in Job, he echoes the universal human longing for clarity and truth. Qoheleth’s reflections, though dark and hinting at despair, remind us that life remains mysterious and beyond full understanding.
Today’s responsorial psalm offers a faith response to Qoheleth’s struggles. Despair can cast a veil over our eyes, hiding God’s love from us. God does not provide us with all the answers. But God offers meaning, the only real and lasting meaning, to our work and to our lives. When necessary, we can accept and live into life’s limitations, rather than seek to defeat them or escape from them. Our frailty and transience can open us into loving relationship with the limitless and the eternal.
WEALTH AND IDOLATRY
In today’s Gospel passage from Luke, Jesus vividly demonstrates his concern about the dangers of wealth in the parable of the rich fool. The problem is not about saving for the future. The problem is revealed in the rich man’s language of self-absorption: it’s all about him. There is no gratitude or responsibility toward God or toward others. He seems to believe that he can secure his future by hoarding his wealth and possessions. It is a form of idolatry.
Part of how we decide what gives life meaning is deciding who or what we serve. Who or what claims our primary energies and best efforts? Idolatry places one’s primary trust in something imagined or created, instead of God. Idolatry is a central theme discussed throughout the scriptures, and idolatry of wealth is no less a danger in modern times than it was in ancient days.
Today’s Readings: Eccl 1:2; 2:21–23; Ps 90:3–4, 5–6, 12–13, 14, 17; Col 3:1–5, 9–11; Lk 12:13–21