Scripture for the Eighteenth Sunday (C). Ecclesiastes (Qohelet) 1:2; 2:21-23. Psalm 95: 1-2, 6-7, 8-9. Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11. Luke 12: 13-21:
Ecclesiastes (Kohelet or Qohelet in Hebrew) is the fourth scroll of the five contained in the Hagiographic part of the Bible. It is read during the time of the festival of Booths or Tabernacles in an intermediate Sabbath. It deals with the struggle to find the purpose of human life and wrestles with issues of faith and reason without being satisfied. By reading this book we are forced to do the same while examining our lives in the light of what we experience. In this sense, it is a very modern book! We daily struggle with some of our thoughts about human life and its purpose even though we are people of faith and strive daily for wholesomeness. For me, it is a revelatory word of God that urges me to set my priorities and to lay inside needless bickering, anxieties, and wasting of time. Our spiritual priorities are more important and thus our struggle results in finding in them a more positive philosophy of life than the “Preacher” (Kohelet) offers us. Nevertheless, this is an important wisdom book from which to learn much about our human limitations and our tendency to boredom. We are led to ask ourselves: What is most important in my life? Or who is more important in my life? Is it God? Are my personal goals in harmony with God’s plan of salvation offered to me in the Scriptures? Is my quest for information and more and more information my source of “wisdom”? Do I go beyond what I know and think? Have I gone beyond Descartes, “I think, therefore, I am.” Do I listen to my conscience and strive to inform it with solid spiritual knowledge based on Scripture? Do I ever ask myself what is God calling me to at this moment or this day?
There is wisdom in books that are not termed Wisdom. For example, the Psalms have a good number of wisdom hymns and reflections. Thus the one chosen for today makes sense in what Ecclesisates is moving toward and puts it into the context of the need to make God first in our lives and to praise and bend our knees in homage to our Creator who made the heights of the earth and the depths of the ocean. The Psalm is a wake-up call, a cup of spiritual coffee. It is called an Invitatory in the liturgy thus it invites us to strike up a relationship with God at the first moment we awake by praising God for the gift of another day. We need to listen and obey in the spirit of the words of this Psalm which helps us to center upon God and not ourselves in this generation which is more of a me, me, me one. God needs to be a top priority in our lives by being our friend and companion.
Paul takes up the call of true wisdom in the passage for today. He tells us, “…set your heart on what pertains to higher realms where Christ is seated at God’s right hand. Be intent on things above rather than on things of earth.”
Jesus’ parables teach wisdom. The parable of the foolish rich man building his barns for his plentiful harvest pushes us to grow strongly in realizing our lives are short and limited. We need to be good planners for the years ahead. We need to grow strongly in our faith and in receiving the good gifts God bestows on us rather than thinking we can do this all by ourselves or that we are entitled to what we expect others to gives us, including God. True wisdom orders all things in our lives rightly.
Father Robert J. Karris, an expert on St. Luke, sums up the lesson from the parable in this way: “He (the rich man) should have made himself rich by selling some of his possessions, giving them in alms to the poor, and thus amassing treasure in heaven ( 12:33). The heart follows its treasure like a magnet. If that treasure is God, the Christian heart bypasses other attractions until it rests in God. If the treasure is material possessions, then the heart will chase after the glitter and enjoyment of things which are subject to change without notice and will neglect the needy ( 12:33-34). Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.