Homily for 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2007
Recently I had an occasion to visit the southern Darling Downs. It was to be -2 degrees there this morning! While there, I had the opportunity to contemplate the effects of the drought on the landscape and on the people who work the land. The grey and brown colours were predominant. The dams on property were empty. There are only bores providing water for crops and stock. The bores, too, are running very low. There is disappointment at every turn on the land. The rains don't come.
It has been said that the two certainties of life are death and taxes. Even so, some manage to evade taxes! Someone else has observed that the two real certainties are death and disappointment. No one is exempt from disappointment of one kind or another. It may be disappointment in love, in family, children, or career. Or maybe in some project one has put one's whole life into. At some stage we all experience the disappointment as hopes and dreams come to nothing.
The preacher of that familiar passage of Ecclesiastes we hear today makes a very real observation of life's experience. All is vanity. He is not saying that it is wrong to make plans and work hard day in and day out. He is not denigrating the effort we make at all. He is simply urging on us the wisdom to realise that no matter how important things in this life are, nevertheless, it all passes away. All is transitory. As he says there is a certain injustice in that situation from the human point of view. But that is the reality of life. To see everything from the point of view that we must eventually leave it all behind is wisdom indeed.
Jesus speaks in a similar vein in the parable we hear today. The wealthy man has an abundance of crops from his land. He has obviously worked hard with the fertile land he cultivates. Jesus is not criticising him for his wealth. He does criticise him for his greed. Above all he criticises him for being blind to the fact that his wealth is not the meaning of life. It will all have to be left when he dies. Someone else will enjoy it!
The wealthy man could have value added to his wealth by sharing it with others who had none. It would have had a value towards eternal life then. Instead he chose to hoard it all for himself. He is a very foolish man.
Someone at the RCIA Information evening last week reflected that as one gets older we don't get worked up over things as we might have whene we were young. You begin to realise that in the long run so many things don't matter that much. We can choose not to get upset at a real or apparent slight or hurt we experience. All things pass. So too with the arguments we get into over politics and religion. We debate many very important issues. We will get lost withoug the wisdom to see that even these important things come to an end and we will leave it all behind.
Jesus challenge to us in the Word today is to learn from the folly of the wealthy land owner. Seek first the Kingdom of God and all the rest will be given to you.Fr Graham