Today's first reading comes from a book of the Bible called Qoheleth or Ecclesiastes. It is a part of the wisdom collection of the Hebrew scriptures that was particularly popular in the early Church. The early Christians were persecuted. They were put to death. They lost their possessions. Their persecutors were Romans, the most affluent civilization Western Society had ever seen. For the Romans, money and possessions meant everything. As the Christians were impoverished, they found tremendous meaning in the Book of Qoheleth. "Vanity of vanities," Qoheleth says. We work so hard for those things that in themselves are meaningless. The book asks: What profit is a person's labor in itself? What good are possessions in themselves?


    In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the sad parable of the man who spends his life accumulating that which he can't bring with him. When his life comes to an end, he has nothing to show before God.

I don't like these readings. They hit too close to home. But they are important for me, as well as for you. They make me ask the questions, "Do I possess things, or do things possess me?" Those are questions we all have to ask ourselves. When our happiness depends on our possessions, then we are letting our possessions control us.


    This is difficult for us all. We live in a consumer orientated society. Every 12 minutes of TV, at least, is interrupted by messages telling us what we need to buy for happiness. We want the best for our children, but it is easy to slip in the consumer mentality that says the best for our children is that what we can buy them. That is not true. The best gift we can offer our children is giving them who we are. If we want the best for our children, we have to give them the life of Christ that we share.

    We have been called to faith. Faith is the constant realization that life is not a destination in itself but a journey to God. When, like the rich man in the parable, we limit our ambitions to this world, we forfeit our chance for true life. We have to be careful that we don't become so self-centered and self-absorbed that we shut ourselves off from the seemingly simple aspects of life in which we find our way to God.

"Because we have been raised with Christ," St. Paul tells the Colossians in today’s second reading, "we have to seek the things that are above." We can't allow our lives to be tied to the things that will pass away.

Today we pray that we might enjoy what the Lord has given us, our possessions, not in themselves, but as ways that we can see his goodness and approach him. We pray that we might not be possessed by what we own, but might possess that which no amount of money can buy: the life of the Lord.