18th Sunday of OT, Year C:
Vanity of vanities, all things are vanity. This Qoheleth guy really seems like a charmer. I mean he doesn’t exactly seem like the kind of person you would want to invite over to your house for a party. He probably wouldn’t want to come anyway, because parties are vanity too I’m sure. What’s going on with this reading? Is the Bible telling us to be pessimistic and downcast? I don’t think so. Rather, I think there is a great wisdom to be learned from our prophet’s straight-forward kind of approach. This has been a really helpful reading for me as I begin my assignment here at St. Jude’s.
This has been an amazing week in a lot of ways. I have met lots of new people, I have had a chance to celebrate Mass, hear confessions, I even had a wedding today. It has been a great week. This is a very exciting time for me in my life. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be the pastor here at St. Jude’s.
But in the midst of all this excitement we hear: vanity of vanities, all things are vanity. Basically the prophet is reminding us that in the midst of all the passing things of our life, we have to keep before us those things that really matter. I don’t think the prophet is just telling us to be depressed. Rather, he is telling us that in the varied experience of the human life there are many things that will take up a lot of our time and energy. At the end of the day, many of these things just pass away, they just disappear into the sands of time. Just stop for a second and think about everything you did this week. Think of all the pleasant things, all the difficult things; think about the exciting things, and the things that caused stress, anger, discouragement, or anxiety. Now that you have thought about these things, how many of them will still matter in 20 years? So much of what we do is oftentimes spent on those things that don’t really matter.
Jesus came to give us direction. He came to give us peace. He came to lead us to salvation. Jesus’ words today in the parable line up with the words from the prophet: why build those bigger barns when we never know what the future might bring. Jesus and Qoheleth both are trying to remind us to stay focused on what really matters in life.
Now, I’m not saying that everyone should go home and quit their jobs. I’m not saying that we can avoid all the little things in our lives. Rather, everything we do we should do it for God. Everything we do, we should do it with God. Everything we do, we can only do it because God gives us the help and strength in order to do it. I think our reading from St. Paul today is a good one for us to keep in our minds and hearts. He says: put to death those parts of you that are earthly. And: seek what is above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God: think of what is above. The bible is not telling us to try to escape from our human lives; rather, we should turn to God in the midst of our human lives. We should try to keep before us those things that really matter.
This is great advice for all of us, but I found it especially helpful this week as I begin my new assignment. There is so much going on here at St. Jude’s, it is new and exciting; but, I have to remember to think about what is above. I have to always keep my eye on what is the most important. And that is our relationship with Christ. There are many responsibilities of a pastor of a parish, but the most important one is to help lead the parish closer to Christ. I ask for your prayers that with God’s help I am able to do this. So that all of us at St. Jude’s can keep our hearts and minds always in communion with Jesus Christ and his Church.