Sunday, 31 July 2022 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday all of us heard the words of the Scriptures which essentially delivered to us one key message, and that is for us to shun and avoid excessive attachments to worldly desires and pleasures, to all the ultimately meaningless and endless pursuits of power, fame, glory, influence, riches, properties, and many other things that we often crave and desire for in our world today. All those things are obstacles and hindrances in the path of our journey towards God. That is why each one of us are reminded this Sunday of the need for us to reject the temptations for all those worldly things and desires.

In our first reading today from the Book of Ecclesiastes or Qoheleth, we heard the author exhorting the people that all of their pursuits of knowledge, of worldly matter and desires, of wealth and riches, all of those were ultimately nothing and meaningless. He pointed out how all the efforts that we put into accumulating and amassing all of them for ourselves would not last in the end, and they were really superficial at best. All of the hard work and the busy actions of the people, seeking for more profits, money, for more glory and fame, for more achievements and other worldly matters, in the end, they would not have peace.

Why is that so? That is because by our own human nature and our societal norms, we often crave for more and more of these worldly things that we desire for, and when we have gotten our hands on them, more often than not, we will not truly be satisfied. That is because those things do not provide us with lasting and true happiness and satisfaction. As soon as we are happy and satisfied with what we have gained and received, we are likely to desire for more, and we will never have enough, and the temptations to seek for more of what we desire will be great. And in the end, we spent many, countless hours in trying to gain more of those things.

The Lord is reminding us through the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes that if we continue to indulge ourselves in worldly desires and attachments, then in the end, we cannot keep all those things anyway, and nothing that we keep or gain in this world will be brought with us to the life that is to come. Whether we end up in the blissfulness of God’s presence in Heaven or whether we end up in the deepest pits of hell, our worldly possessions, status, riches, wealth, fame, and other things that often define us in this world are not brought over with us. When we pass on from this world through death, all of us shall leave it with nothing on us, just the same way as how we entered this world.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples and followers, and also particularly to a person who asked Him to be the arbiter in their family conflict over inheritance, by asking Him to persuade his brother to share with him the family inheritance. As we all are aware of, matters of family inheritance are usually always very complicated and protracted, with the conflicting parties desiring to get more portions of what they considered themselves as being entitled to. And what usually made it difficult to resolve is because each party tend to keep making demands and no one can truly be satisfied with the arrangements made.

And not only that such conflict and struggle leads to extended suffering and hardships for everyone who are involved, but it also ruined and destroyed relationships between people, between families and relatives. In the end, no matter who received more of the inheritance or property, everyone lost. They lost precious time, relationships and love that cannot be repaired and time as we know cannot be turned back. How can all the values of the properties, the riches and the valuables that we squabble over, ever compare to the value of our relationship with one another, the familial bond and friendships among other things?

Not only that, but all those things that we often spend a lot of time worrying and being concerned about, in the end, can be lost and destroyed within merely short amount of time. What can be destroyed by fire, by water, by moth, decay or any other worldly means, are not true treasures, brothers and sisters in Christ. And even if what we have are not destroyed or overcome by those, in the end, death is the ultimate end of all of them. As the Lord’s parable in our Gospel passage today may show us, each one of us are reminded not to be blinded and misled by our attachments to the world and our desires.

The Lord told the disciples and the people a parable in which He mentioned how a rich man who had a vast holding of farms and estates had so much harvest that he was planning on how to extend his already vast possessions even more, planning to build more granaries and storage barns and spaces to contain more of his harvest and wealth, thinking of the bounty and prosperity that he was to enjoy for many more years to come. The Lord then ended the story with a bitter anticlimax and reality for the rich man, as He said that the rich man was about to die and to leave behind everything that he had worked so hard for, accumulated and assembled, as was his fate.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as what we have heard from the Scriptures revealed to us, all of us have to keep in mind and be vigilant that we do not allow ourselves to be easily swayed by the temptations and attachments we have to worldly things and matters. The Lord warns us not against having worldly possessions or for gathering money or other things that we may need in the world. What He warns us against is the excessive attachments and obsessions for those things which can lead us down the path to ruin, distracting us from the path that we should be taking towards God and His salvation.

In our second reading today, we heard from the Epistle that St. Paul wrote to the Church and faithful in the city of Colossae, the Colossians, we heard of the reminder that we should put our focus and attention on things that are above, and not on worldly things and matter. St. Paul exhorted the faithful to get rid from themselves the immoral and improper attachments to worldly desires and vices, all the things that have always kept us all back from finding our way to God. All that made us to continue to be stubborn in refusing to listen to God and His calling, which He had repeatedly made for us. We are all reminded and called to holiness, and to be rid of excessive attachments to worldly desires and pursuits.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all live our lives from now on as faithful and genuine Christians, no longer enslaved or burdened by our many unhealthy attachments to worldly desires and temptations. All of us should do our best to focus on the right things in life, and not to be distracted by all those things that can lead us down the wrong path. We have to heed what we have heard today from the Scriptures and what we have just discussed earlier on, so that we can be living our lives as Christians as good role models and inspirations to one another, in our lives that are focused on God and His truth, following His ways and not being overly and excessively obsessed on worldly matters and things.

Let us all instead seek to serve the Lord and to live our lives to the fullest, loving God and loving our fellow brothers and sisters, appreciating all the blessings we have received, sharing whatever love and joy we have, and not to be greedy, selfish or filled with greed. Let us all dedicate our time and effort therefore to do what we should do as Christians, in being generous with love and kindness to one another, building up for ourselves the true treasures that we can find in God alone, and not the illusory and temporary treasures of this world. May the Lord be with us always, and may He give us the strength and the courage to persevere through the hardships in life, the challenges and trials, the temptations that we may have to face, in each and every moments of our lives. Amen.