August 4, 2019 - The 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
We spend our days working hard, earning money to pay for mortgages, utilities, cell phones, cars, vacations, clothes and taxes. Our goal in life is to earn enough to support the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed or to which we aspire. We provide for our children all that we can afford so that they too can live within our lifestyle. When we achieve our lifestyle goal, we feel secure. We can stop worrying about working so hard and just enjoy the fruits of our labors in relative ease and comfort.
Do we feel secure? Do we stop worrying and just relax and enjoy all that we have and stop worrying about working so hard and instead make time to enjoy all the fruits of our labors in relative ease and comfort? No…no…we don’t do that because as we amass more, we aspire to even more so the cycle is never ending. We end up wondering “what’s the use” of all this hard work since it isn’t providing happiness or relief from stress. If we attain one goal, we reach toward another, and another. We aren’t less stressed because we have all that we need, even all that we want. We don’t stop working hard to get more. We don’t stop worrying because now that we have all of this wealth, we have to keep it, not lose it, and having it leads us to want more too.
In our first reading this Sunday from Ecclesiastes Qoheleth, the preacher, asks, “What good does all that hard work do for a person?” In context of the entire reading we feel a bit of a letdown…disappointment. Everything is useless. We work hard and don’t enjoy the results. We work hard every day and can’t sleep at night. Like the man in the Gospel story we worry about how we will keep all that our hard work has produced. We continually build bigger barns, i.e. buy larger houses, etc., to store everything in and we think this will allow us, like the man in the parable, to have everything we need for years and years and take it easy and eat and drink and do whatever we want. And what of Paul's words to the Colossians? "Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator. "
The problem here is not the wealth, which is honestly acquired, but the sense of independence and self-sufficiency and selfishness that accompanies this success. The man in the Gospel has made his life good by his hard work and he has everything…except for God. And God, seeing his arrogance and selfishness takes his life and asks “What will happen to all the things you saved for yourself? Who will get them?”
What values are we amassing, and what values are we teaching to our children and grandchildren? How many of our children are surrounded by toys, video games, computers, bikes, etc., that they just had to have and now never use or play with them at all? How many children, even though they have many possessions and nice houses, clothes and vacations are unsatisfied on a daily basis, or sad and lonely none the less? No matter how many possessions and other luxuries we give to our children, we cannot replace what is most important, and that is LOVE. Are we loving our children with things? Are we silently telling them that what matters most in life is wealth, prestige and power, and that only WE can provide these necessities to ourselves, and without them we will be unhappy?
We must stop ourselves from believing that we have provided, and will provide, ALL that we NEED. We do not need fancy houses, cars, cell phones and vacations to live healthy and happy lives. What people need is love, more than anything, and sustenance for our physical bodies. Thankfully, God loves us and provides for us physically and spiritually. There is nothing wrong with having wealth, but wealth is not what brings true happiness. Ask anyone who has lost everything of wealth what is most important in life. While we may achieve more power in the world through our wealth, even all the power in the world cannot provide true happiness.
Only GOD can provide meaning to our lives.
The Psalm this week is Psalm 90: If Today, You Hear the Voice of God
Have a blessed week. Take the time to appreciate what and WHO in your life gives you true happiness. You will find that the material possessions are not what are most important to you at all…you can live without everything except for God, and after that the love of your family and friends! Once you can release material possessions from your mental and physical grasp and put them into a proper perspective you will be truly free to live your life in joy and love, free from the worry of having or losing possessions, and instead feel secure in the reality that you have not lost God!