Homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: VANITY OF VANITIES
By: Fr. Gerry M. Musa
Homily for Sunday August 4 2019
King Alexander the great is renowned in history as a man who had enormous wealth and political power. He was greatly feared as he conquered territories and exercised authority. Despite his wealth and power, he was aware of his mortal nature and that someday he would die. At some point in his life, he was afflicted by a fatal sickness and he realised this world is only a temporary place and so he expressed three wishes:
1. I desire that when I die only the Doctors should carry my coffin. This is to tell the world that no physician has the power to cure or to save his patient from death.
2. I want the road to my grave to be decorated with gold, silver and precious stones. This is to tell the world that even though I spent time and energy chasing wealth, I am leaving them all behind.
3. Lastly, both of my hands should be stuck out of the coffin to show the world that I came with empty hands and I am returning to my creator with empty hands.
This story of Alexander the Great should help us understand St. Paul’s instruction, which says, “Set your minds on the things that are above and not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).
Consider the hard truth that the book of Ecclesiastes conveys. It begins: “Vanity of vanities, the preacher says, vanity of vanities, All things are vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). This book of the scriptures looks critically at some concrete facts of life where “one laboured with wisdom and knowledge and skill,” and another who has not laboured enjoys what the hard worker is leaving behind. Furthermore, the author of the book reflects on the rhythm of life and on how a person toils with anxiety under the sun, and yet all his days are marked with sorrow and grief and even at night his mind cannot rest. All these, he says, are vanity (Ecclesiastes 2:21-23).
Jesus instructs his disciples to guard against vainglory. He says, “Take care, “to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Jesus illustrated his point with the parable of the “Rich Fool” (Luke 12:16-20). God took the rich fool away from the world when he was in the middle of building an earthly kingdom for himself alone. Jesus concluded the parable saying, “Thus will it be for those who store up treasures (money and property) for themselves and are not rich in matters of God” (Luke 12:21) “The Jerome Biblical Commentary describes the question asked by Jesus at the end of the Parable: “And all these riches, to whom shall it go?” as the punch line of the parable.
It is not a sin to be rich and to expand one’s wealth. The sin of the rich fool was the sin of omission – the good things he failed to do with his money. He excluded the poorest of the poor, the marginalised, the orphans, widows and helpless sick from his budget. He made his possessions his obsessions. He considered his valuables to be more important than the value of charity. He was simply self-centred, full of himself and greedy. He was enjoying the gift of life and forgetting about the goodness of the giver. He was attached to the good gifts that life had given him and he was totally detached from the Giver of all that he possessed.
18TH Sunday of the Year C; Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23; Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11; Luke 12:13-21