Wealth in the eyes of the world is attained by material success, possessions and status – accumulated by greed. Vanity of Vanities! Qoheleth (Hebrew for the Greek word Ecclesiastes, a “collector” of wisdom sayings) talks about vanity, the emptiness felt within from struggling and toiling in life all for nothing as Genesis 3:19 reminds us from out of the ground we were taken; we are dust, and to dust we shall return. Wealth cannot be brought with us when we are called to the Lord. “Vanity” in the biblical sense encompasses much more than what it means in English which is having an excessive pride in achievements – a vicious cycle of seeking human recognition. “I” achieved and therefore “I” look better… “I” would like to look better and therefore “I” shall work to succeed and be praised. Do you seek recognition from others or the recognition that comes from God?

Injustice was felt by the man in the crowd for he did not receive his share of the inheritance. He identifies his problem as the unjust brother. Jesus however, scrutinizes the underlying issue to be his greed. Do you find yourself wrongly identifying the cause of your tribulation? Often, the root cause is difficult to diagnose. Be not afraid! Having a loving relationship with the Most Holy Trinity opens our eyes and heart to the cause of our suffering. Be strong in your prayer life and together with the support of the community, you shall be spiritually free from your trials. “Thank you Lord, for the trials that come my way. In that way I can grow each day, as I let you lead.” Perhaps it might be better to let apparent injustice pass us by and continue to be at peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ. After all, what is our true inheritance?

Jesus enlightens us with the parable of the rich fool whose land produced a bountiful harvest. Firstly, it is the land that produces the harvest. The rich fool’s success lies not just in his technical farming skills but also on the condition of the land, weather, pest control, his clients etc. There are many factors to consider, most of which are out of his control. The rich fool fails to appreciate the providence that flows from the generous bounty of the Lord. This stems from his poor relationship with God that left him wanting and chasing after vanity. Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Do you point to God for his graces behind your success?

Secondly, the rich fool hoarded his possessions. Catholic social doctrine states the Principle of Universal Destination of Goods – “God destined the earth and all it contains for all men and all peoples so that all created things would be shared fairly by all mankind under the guidance of justice tempered by charity” (Gaudium et Spes, 69). “The earth, by reason of its fruitfulness and its capacity to satisfy human needs, is God’s first gift for the sustenance of human life (Centesimus Annus, 31).” The harvest of the earth is for everyone and is not exclusive to the rich fool. His stewardship of the land makes him a steward of providence, to share the benefits of the land with others who are in need in our present time. (CCC 2404) Thus, Jesus rightly admonishes the rich fool in Luke 12:20 – “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” In what areas of your life do you find difficult to share? – What about your painful past? What about sharing Jesus as Lord and Saviour? Are you hoarding (keeping) Jesus to yourself?

Luke 12:15 – “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Jesus points out that there is more to life than wealth that is temporary. John 10:10. “I came that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.” Life, in all its wholeness of the human experience, is a precious gift from God. Nothing makes life greater, richer, everlasting, or more secure than storing our riches in heaven. Are you rich in what matters to God or are you rich in what matters to the world? Jesus is our mediator between God and man. (John 14:6) “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Let us offer our lives to Jesus so that we are able to abstain from living in “Vanity”, of striving after wind. (Ecc 1:14)

With the Hope of the Lord,
Marianne