VANITY OF VANITIES

THEME: VANITY OF VANITIES
READINGS: Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23/ Colossians 3:1-5,9-11/ Luke 12:13-21
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Just imagine that you are admiring a beautiful mansion: its unique architecture, high quality glass windows and doors, with a fascinating roof to crown it all. Then, suddenly, the mansion crumbles down. In a shock and as you wonder about why the mansion collapsed, the great loss of the investments of money, materials and efforts run through your mind. Eventually, you get to know that the impressive building collapsed because of a weak or faulty foundation-substructure.

Our life is like a building. Our achievements and possessions are the superstructure of pillars, windows, doors, roof, etc. Our faith, hope and love determine the strength of our foundation-substructure.  If we lack faith in the Living God, place our hope in the false security of earthly riches and are selfish, then we have a weak foundation-substructure. In such a case, like the collapsed mansion we just imagined, all our achievements and possessions will come to nothing.  The Book of Ecclesiastes puts it this way: “Vanity of vanities…! All things are vanity! Here is one who has laboured with wisdom and knowledge and skill, and yet to another who has not laboured over it, he must leave property. This also is vanity and a great misfortune” (Eccl. 1:2; 2:21).

Similarly, in the gospel reading, Jesus calls our attention to the danger associated with building our lives on only earthly possessions: “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions” (Luke 12:15). Probably another illustration may be helpful here. Sometimes in a soccer or football game, it is not the team with the higher percentage of ball possession which wins the match. For instance, a team may have 60% ball possession (as against the 40% possession of its opponent) and yet lose the match. Similarly, having a great possession of earthly goods does not guarantee the salvation of one’s soul, as illustrated in Jesus’ parable (cf. Luke 12:16-21).

This message is ever more relevant in our age, where materialism is prominent and the social status of a person is usually determined by his/her wealth. Unfortunately, the prominence of materialism and the greed to acquire more wealth (sometimes, by foul or corrupt means) have been worsened in many African countries by the prosperity preaching of many pastors.

Contrary to the craze for material possessions and other earthly achievements, it is by anchoring our faith in the Living God, by hoping in the treasures of heaven, and by loving God and neighbour as Christ has taught us that we build a solid foundation-substructure. This is the kind of foundation-substructure that eternally sustains the beautiful superstructure of our achievements and possessions.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us seek first the heavenly kingdom (cf. Matt. 6:33) where, according to St. Paul, “Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” Let us “think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” Then, when Christ our “life appears… [we] too will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:1-5). Amen!

By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis

Fr. John Louis

Very Rev. Fr. John Kobina Louis is a priest of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana. More about him here.

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Catholic Homilies and Sermons for the liturgical year by Rev. Fr. Dr. John Kobina Louis of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana.