Sunday, 4 August 2019 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday all of us are brought, through the Sacred Scripture passages we have heard, to reflect on our own respective lives, and what pursuits and attention we have given to the various desires we have in life all these while. The Scripture passages today have a very clear direction and meaning, that is to remind us of our own mortality, smallness, imperfections and powerlessness precisely because of our mortality.

In the first reading today, taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes or Qoheleth, we heard about the author mentioned about the many meaninglessness in life, in the gaining of knowledge, in the toiling and hard labour in work and efforts for sustenance and perhaps for income and money, among many others. It is meaningless not because those things themselves are meaningless, but rather, we have to understand that the author focused on the impulsive and often overly addictive pursuits for these things among us mankind.

These are the things that are presented very well and clearly by the Lord Jesus in our Gospel passage today, in which He spoke of the parable of the rich man and his wealth to His disciples and to the people who were gathered before Him. It stemmed from a question and request from a man who wanted the Lord to persuade and to advice his brother to share with him the family inheritance, a common issue that often face the members of our many families.

From what we have briefly heard being described in the Gospel passage, we can assume quite well that the man was having a dispute with regards to the family inheritance and possessions with his brother. This is something that we must have heard a lot of times, in families and communities all around us, and even perhaps in our own families, how the members of the family bicker, disagree and even fight against one another disputing and seeking, desiring and wanting a part of the family possessions, wealth and other things.

Thus, the Lord made it clear to the people, making use of the opportunity as a teachable lesson both for the man who asked Him to advice his brother, as well as the rest of the people and His disciples that seeking, desiring and wanting the worldly possessions and goods, wealth and other forms of worldly satisfaction is truly not worth what we may think they are, just as the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes mentioned earlier.

In the parable the Lord told the people, we heard of a rich man who was very proud of his achievements and wealth, his many granaries and riches stored in those granaries, and how he planned and thought a lot on how he could enlarge the granaries he had so that he could store even more of the grains harvested from his vast tracts of rich and fertile farmlands. He has planned in his mind how he wanted to gain even more riches and enjoy the many more years of living with all those riches.

And the Lord through that parable showed His people how futile their searches and many ambitions for power, worldly glory, wealth, fame and glamour are, as the rich man was destined to die that very night, and none of his numerous wealth and plentiful stored riches could have saved him from the inevitable. No one can escape death, and death is a certainty that we mankind have to face, and when we die, nothing that we gain for ourselves in this world, all the worldly treasures and goods will be brought with us through death.

Unfortunately, brothers and sisters in Christ, this is exactly what many of us have been doing wrongly all these while. We have put our focus, effort and attention so much on trying to gather for ourselves all these worldly goods, glories and achievements that we become intoxicated and addicted to them, and in our endless pursuits for these things, we end up forgetting why we live in this world and the reason for our existence all these while.

In our second reading passage today, St. Paul in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful people of God in the city of Colossae, he spoke of what each and every one of us as Christians are called to do in our lives, and that is to seek for greater things in Christ, and not to seek the false treasures and the futile pursuits for worldly glory in this world. He exhorted the people of God to follow the Lord faithfully, and to reject all sorts of immorality, sin and the many temptations being present in this world.

That is why today, all of us having heard and listened to the words of the Scripture passages that strongly urged and reminded us to seek the true treasures of our life, we are now called to reflect on how we have lived our lives thus far and how much progress we have actually made in trying to find this true treasure of our life. Have we been acting like that rich man who cared for nothing but for the greater glorification of himself and for the greater wealth of his own?

On this day we are called to reflect on how futile is the pursuit of wealth, glory, fame, worldly pleasures and all sorts of excesses of this world. And as I mentioned earlier in this discourse, we must be careful and not misunderstand that we must abandon everything that is worldly and all sorts of worldly possessions, wealth or anything related to this world. We must understand that we do still need to have these things, but it is just that we cannot be overly obsessed and preoccupied with them as what many of us often do.

While we live in this world, we should be smart and make good use of whatever resources and blessings that God has given each and every one of us. However, we must not allow these things to overcome us and rule over us instead. We make use of them and not they make use of us instead. Unfortunately, it is our weak human nature and predisposition to desire and greed that often brought us to fall into sin.

We are easily tempted by the many worldly glory, temptations, pleasures and all the things that cause us to forget about God and our true treasure in life. We seek for glory and happiness in this world that do not truly last, and often we are not able to overcome our attachment, and as a result, we fail to notice how we should go forward in life seeking true happiness and joy, and instead, are trapped in the endless cycles of desire.

We have to strive to look beyond the meaninglessness of our endless pursuits of power, glory, fame and all those things that often prevent us from finding our true treasure, which is nothing less than God, our true treasure and destination, the only One Who is capable of granting us true happiness and joy that is beyond anything else that this world can give us. For no matter how wonderful, joyful or great all the treasures of this world can be, and how good they may seem to be, they will not last.

In fact, much sufferings present in this world are caused by our own desire for all these things, and how our conflicting desires with one another cause us to bicker, to fight, and to exploit those who are weaker than us, so that we can gain for ourselves more of what we desire and want. And we can never be truly happy since whatever we do to gain all those desires, we will have inadvertently or even consciously caused unhappiness or suffering all around us.

As the Scripture says, ‘What does it gain for us to gain the entire world and yet lose our soul?’, we are reminded today that we must resist the temptations of false pleasures and happiness in this world. Satan, our great enemy knows this very well, and he is doing whatever he can in order to tempt us and to bring us to our downfall, by showing us all sorts of false pleasures in life that seem to be better, more enjoyable and more wonderful than the path leading towards God and His salvation.

Are we able then to make good use of whatever blessings and worldly goodness God has given us, but without being overcome by our desires and greed? Are we able to grow deeper in our relationship with God, and in our love for Him so that despite all those temptations and challenges we will have to face, we will always remain steadfast in faith and stay faithful in all things?

May the Lord guide us all and may He empower each and every one of us to live faithfully in His presence from now on, if we have not done so. May He continue to love us and bless all of our good works, that we may come to seek the true treasure and happiness in our lives, that lies in God alone, in being with Him and enjoying forever the glorious inheritance and blissful life He has promised us all. Amen.