1st Reading – Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23
From http://www.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/online.html: This is the only time that we read from this book at a Sunday liturgy, although we often hear from it at funerals: “For everything there is a season . . . “ (3:1). Qoheleth seems to be a collective name rather than a single person, a community’s voice expressing its wisdom. Vanity for the writer is more like mist or smoke rather than the falseness of glamor. The voice of the people is wondering about what life is really all about. Do you ever have moments when you wonder too? The basic message is the old one of, “You can’t take it with you.” Instead of the meaning of the word “vanity” concerning superfluous clothes and cosmetics, I offer the word, “fragile” or “symbolic”. Everything is sacramental, that is leading beyond itself. The theme here is that what is, is, and will not be, very soon. This text is not meant to be a bucket of cold water, but a reflection upon the shortness of life’s span and even more deeply, a pointing to the possibility of a life beyond the fragile.
In growing up, I remember going to my mother a lot and saying, “That’s not fair!” She would always reply, “Well, life isn’t fair!” I never liked it when she said that, because there is no arguing with it. It’s true, as much as we all wish it wasn’t. Sometimes we work hard and things still don’t work out. Sometimes we do nothing and everything is grand. That is how life goes. Qoheleth is saying get past this. Treasure the love. Treasure the good.
2nd Reading – Colossians 3: 1-5, 9-11
From Reginald Fuller, “Scripture in Depth” http://liturgy.slu.edu:
The dying that Colossians is referring to is the ‘dying’ of baptism. Once baptized we are to begin living ‘a new life’ – a life that is transformed already by the resurrection of Christ. Thinking of “what is above” is not some neo-Platonic escape from this present world – but a qualitatively transcendent way to life within the world. Our relation to God is not a ‘religious’ relationship to a Being that is up there and out there – rather our relation to God is a new life in ‘existence for others through participation in the being of Jesus (the Body of Christ) – the ‘man for others’ – the crucified/resurrected one (taken from thoughts from D. Bonhoeffer).
“Your life is hidden in Christ” and “When Christ your life appears”…what do you make of this? We are not branded that we are Christian. By looking at us, no one knows that we are followers of Christ. But we hold this truth in our hearts. Our belief may be hidden from view, but our actions will show it. It is through our actions that we become the hands and feet of Christ. So we are to turn away from that which keeps us from being more like Christ. A lifetime job! Paul says we need to put them to death, which is such strong language. What do you think?
The Gospel – Luke 12:13 – 21
How does this Gospel parable relate to the other readings we just heard?
Isn’t it interesting that right from the get-go, Jesus says he is not a judge? What does that say about Jesus? About how you relate to Jesus? It was not uncommon for people in Palestine to take their unsettled disputes to respected Rabbis; but Jesus refused to be mixed up in anyone’s disputes about money. But out of that request there came to Jesus an opportunity to lay down what His followers’ attitude to material things should be, those with abundance and those who had none (Barclay’s Daily Study Bible series on Luke, p. 167).
Basil the Great (330-379) says of this story:
“But what do we find in this man? A bitter disposition – an unwillingness to give. He forgot that we all share the same nature. With all his wealth, he laments like the poor: what am I to do? If you have wealth, recognize who has given you the gifts you have . . . you are the servant of the good God, a steward on behalf of other fellow servants. Do not imagine that everything has been provided for your own stomach.” How different the story would be if this man had thought: I will enjoy what I have by sharing it. I will issue the generous invitation: Let anyone who lacks bread, come to me. We will share in the good things just as though we were drawing from a common well. (“Thoughts from the Early Church”, http://liturgy.slu.edu )
Living Liturgy, 2004, p.187:
All of these readings challenge us to a deeper surrender to the paschal mystery. Our ideal stands before us – the person of Christ. The word reminds us that we are the body of Christ and our mission is to heal the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and forgive those who injure us. We are called to say yes to the ideal. This ideal is not a set of directives but a living, breathing relationship to a Person who is calling us to die to self and live a life that is eternal.
Richard Rohr, The Good News According to Luke, p. 153-155:
Jesus’ message in today’s reading is: “Live now what matters in eternity.” Live on earth what’s happening in heaven. What would really matter to you if you knew you were to die tomorrow? To whom would you go with the words, “I’m sorry,” or “I love you,” or “I forgive you”? It is important to live what is truly important. It is a call to faith. Such faith is the opposite of anxiety. If we do not believe that God is for us, then we must be self-occupied. As soon as we stop believing in a loving God, we revert to ourselves. Jesus and his good news free us from groveling before God or trying to earn or manipulate God’s approval. We all have that approval already. We just need to live it – and share it.