Please remember to register for our two-hour retreat on Mary’s Magnificat by Br. Silas starting at 9 am on Saturday, August 24th, in the church. You can register on our webpage or by calling the parish office.
Uncharacteristically, all three of our readings this weekend, in addition to the responsorial psalm,
emphasize one theme: we need to get our priorities straight!
The first reading sums it up well: Vanity of vanity! All things are vanity! The Hebrew word used for “vanity” means “unsubstantial” or “puff of smoke.” A person labors and is anxious about the future, but then leaves all to someone else when he dies. The responsorial psalm reiterates the theme, reminding us that we will return to dust as quickly as grass wilts and fades by evening.
In his letter to the Colossians, St. Paul picks up the theme with Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. He then lists some of the prime attractions of earth: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Stop lying to one another. He closes his admonition with the analogy of clothes, urging us to take off “the old self” and put on the “new.”
In the Gospel two brothers approach Jesus and ask him to settle a dispute about their father’s inheritance. The irony is that they are fighting over the material possessions that have come to mean NOTHING to the dead man. Jesus warns against greed (the original word means “insatiableness” or “a restlessness to acquire more”). As is his custom, Jesus drives home his point with a parable, this one about a man who builds bigger barns so he can store his grain and relax securely for years, but dies that very night. We come right back to our first reading: Vanity of vanities!
I invite us this week to reflect on our priorities, not what we THINK or BELIEVE are our priorities, but rather what our use of time, talent and treasure reveal to be truly the case. For how we use these gifts from God are a true indication of our priorities. With the insights gained from that reflection, we can plan how to change so that our priorities are more in line with what we know they should be.
Viktor Frankl captures well the challenge of our readings: “What is the meaning of life?” is the wrong question. The right question is “What meaning will I give life?” Our priorities tell us!
And as we reflect and grow, let us support each other in prayer.
-- Paul James Portland, SDS