During Ordinary time, the first reading is chosen to reinforce the theme of the Gospel. Normally, with the second reading, the Church is taking us through various books of the New Testament, with no deliberate reference to the theme of the day. This weekend, however, all three readings fit together perfectly to remind us that acquiring things is not what is important in life.
In the first reading from Ecclesiastes, we are told that “all things are vanity.” Everything that we acquire we leave behind when we die and, if a person is fixated on getting more and more things, anxiety to do so will possess him and “even at night his mind is not at rest.” In his letter to the Colossians, Paul tells them (and us) to “think of what is above, not of what is on earth” and to “put to death…the greed that is idolatry.” Finally, in the Gospel parable, God calls the man who built a bigger barn to store his things “a fool,” because it did not bring him the security he was looking for: he died that very night.
There are two points I would like to make. Perhaps one of the drives behind greed is the need or desire for security. Like the man in the Gospel parable, we can be trying to store up things “for many years.” But the problem is we are relying on ourselves, not on God. And we are not in control: anything can happen to wipe away our security. We need to learn to trust and rely on God, not ourselves.
Second, when we are trying to be in control and take care of ourselves, we become more and more self-centered, as did the man in the parable. In his little dialog with himself, he uses “I” 6 times and “my” 3 times. He never references anyone but himself. So, not only is he isolating himself from God by relying on himself, he is isolating from others. And, sadly, it is a house built on sand, because we are
definitely not in control.
The last line of the Gospel sums it up: they are fools “who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.” Am I relying on God or myself? Am I sharing what God has given me with others? That is what matters to God!
Church sign of the week: Disciples don’t build bigger barns. They build longer tables.