HOMILY FOR 18TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: “WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?”
BY: Fr Livinus C. Igbodekwe
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY JULY 31 2022
1. I think that the world itself has a way of bewildering us. As our eyes open as babes and we yield to loud crying at birth, our journey of understanding begins. At one point we are hit by a surprise, and at another point we understand a suprise. It is this continuum of surprise and understanding that form our daily experiences on earth. No wonder, at a given stage of maturity, our inquisitiveness wanes. We begin to see things as normal, and questions are no longer deemed necessary. But, the truth is that living without questioning is debasing to our nature. We must question, in order to properly understand.
Today, the Preacher (probably, King Solomon) seeks to waken us to that inquiry about life itself. Questions like: What is life? Why am I here? Where do I come from? Where am I going? These questions remain ever valid in our day to day sojourn in the world. Dr Myles Munroe, one of my most loved authors, says that the richest place to be on earth is not in a gold mine, or diamond mine, or a crude mine of countries but in a CEMETARY. It’s really shocking to hear that. Isn’t it? But that’s the truth. It is true because in the grave yard, you meet the greatest brains that ever lived, like Galileo, Newton Einstein, great scientists and great philosophers, business tycoons, and talented men/women, whose memories are only preserved by a dash between two dates (date of birth – date of death).
2. One, therefore, is poised to share the same worries with The Philosopher-Preacher, “Are all things not vanity upon vanity?” What is the essence of great wisdom, invention, labour, learning, wealth, if at last, death happens to all? What difference does it make to be a wise man or to be a fool; rich or poor, if they are leveled down by death?
If you are in Solomon’s world, maybe we can understand him more. A man of great wisdom at the inception of his public life as a King, revered and admired by kings and queens of the nations, but later was eluded by wisdom that he made many unwise decisions, one of which was marrying 700 wives and 300 concubines; having a massive pile of gold, silver and precious stones, yet is to be succeeded by one foolish son, Rehoboam; laboured on the building of the most magnificent Temple of the time, later to be mismanaged, and later destroyed. One should ask, why labour at all?
3. This question leads to further questions that open our eyes to appreciate another dimension of reality, thus: Is there another place after here? Is there a reward after labour outside of this realm? This is where religion begins to give meaning to existence itself. This has been the preaching of prophets down the times until the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who tells us about a Kingdom apart from this world. St Paul, therefore, advises us to focus our eyes on the things above, not on the things beneath.
4. Sin is at the root of all vanities, and that is why all material things are bound to destruction and decay. God says to Adam, “Thou art dust, unto dust thou shalt return.” This is the principle of vanity. All earthly possessions are bound towards earth (dust). Nothing material follows the soul beyond. We should, therefore, look upwards, not downwards.
5. The Gospel today, gives us a clear picture of what becomes of those who spend their time acquiring earthly goods, instead of seeking the things that transcend the material world. What will it profit a man if he/she gains the whole world and forfeits his/her soul? (Mk 8:36). This statement of Jesus reveals the vanity of material wealth. The Rich Man in Jesus’ parable points at all men of earthly inclinations and achievements who relegate selflessness, kindness, generosity, with hope of eternal rewards, to the background in order to selfishly pursue earthly success and achievements to the detriment of love of neighbor. People with this moral standing will end up losing everything to death, even their very souls.
Let us live in the hope of heaven always!