My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
As I was saying, let us unite ourselves in prayer with our brothers and sisters in El Paso, Gilroy, and Dayton, Ohio — and every place where people are hurting and afraid. It is hard to understand this random and senseless violence.
But Jesus calls us to trust in God. And he calls us to overcome evil with good and hatred with love. We pray for the innocent victims in these attacks and we ask that God stay close to their families and loved ones.
And we pray for peace. Peace in our country and in the world. Peace in our hearts and in our families. We ask for that gift of Peace.
So going to the readings for today’s Mass, I think the readings help us to reflect on the meaning of life and the fact that our goal — our destiny — is to go to heaven.
This passage of the Gospel that we just heard it’s interesting, isn’t it?
The young man comes to Jesus and wants Jesus to solve his problems with his brother over their inheritance. And Jesus has a pretty tough message for this young man.
He tells him he should stop worrying about things like money and possessions. And then he tells us that beautiful story, the parable of the rich fool.
Now, in the Bible, a “fool” is a person who does not listen to the wisdom of God. The “fool” is the person who thinks only about himself and lives only for his own desires, without giving any thought to what God requires.
So the man in the parable is a rich man, he is a big farmer. But, one of the things that we need to reflect on is the fact that he was wealthy is not what makes him a fool — there’s nothing wrong necessarily with having money or a lot of things.
But the parable refers to this man as a fool because he does not know his life is really for. He is a fool because he thinks that accumulating wealth and possessions is all he needs to be happy.
Ans I was reflecting on our Lord’s parable, I was thinking that the culture we are living in, sadly, can be summed up by those words that we hear from the rich fool in the Gospel:
Have so many good things …
rest, eat, drink, be merry
Isn’t it true that we hear a similar message relentlessly in our society, that we can find happiness by having money and the things that money can buy — the right car, and the right entertainment, and maybe the right telephone, leisure and pleasure.
But I think we all understand that what our culture says is a “good life” — is not really a good life at all.
The challenge that we have is that we are surrounded by those kind of messages. And whether we like it or not, those values and priorities start to sink in. We can live every day and never think about God in this society, just like that rich farmer. We start sometimes to worry about having enough money and having things that we see our neighbors have.
This is exactly why Jesus warns the young man today — he says to him in the parable:
Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one’s life does not consist of possessions.
Now we know that Jesus understands that we need money and food, that we need a place to live to be comfortable. And we also know that Jesus wants us to have fun and enjoy ourselves, to have a nice life.
But Jesus wants us to know that there is more to life than material things. And I think that’s the point that we have to ask God to help us understand today. What matters is not what we have. What matters is God and what God wants for our lives. That’s what Jesus is telling us today.
We cannot rely on our wealth to bring us security. That is the wisdom that we heard in that beautiful first reading today from Ecclesiastes. It is a very realistic passage:
Vanities of vanity.
All things are vanity
So sometimes what we hear, what we worry about — it’s not the most important thing. Because all things must pass away. This is the nature of things in this material world. Things are here for a while and then they are not. Even our own lives. All of us are here for just a while.
And as we heard in that first reading, our lives are not our own.
No matter how hard we work or how much we worry — for all our “anxiety of heart” and all the nights we spend worrying, we are not in control. We don’t think too much about it, but that’s what it is.
God is in charge. And that’s beautiful because God is all wisdom. God is all perfection. God knows perfectly what is better for each one of us.
So, we need to trust in his Providence. We need to understand that God is a wonderful Father — that he loves each one of us personally. He loves us so much that he sent his only Son, Jesus, to die for you and for me. That we have a wonderful life and the joy of going to heaven.
So let’s especially open our hearts today to what Jesus says in today’s Gospel. We need to be “rich in what matters to God.”
If we trust in him, if we live according to his teachings, he will do the rest. He will give us what we need — Life and life abundant! Not necessarily material things or wealth. God will give us the things of heaven, the gifts of love and friendship; he will give us joy and a sense of real meaning and purpose in our lives. Those are, my dear brothers and sisters, the things we really need, that is what that brings us joy and peace in our lives.
So this week, let us especially trust to reflect on the beauty of setting the goal of our life on going to heaven. Let’s think of what is above, as St. Paul says in the second reading: “Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.”
And let us try to see that heaven is our goal. And let us, especially, continue to pray for the gift of peace — for our families, our Church, our country, the entire world.
And let us ask for the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary. May she help us to always know that our trust lies in heaven, with her Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1. Readings: Eccl. 1:2; 2:21-23; Ps. 90:3-6, 12-14, 17; Col. 3:1-5, 9-11; Luke 12:13-21.