Acquiring material things benefit us and those who come after us. However, excessive pride in what we achieve should rather give way to being at rights with God.
God blesses human labour and shows us that all our toil is vanity. It may end up being inherited by some ‘useless’ fellow who has not toiled for it. It is this inheritance we see someone asking Jesus to tell his sibling to give him what should come to him by right. Jesus answers by the parable of the rich fool who thought material things can ensure long life. The second reading of today insists that as followers of Jesus we should seek to become more like Jesus by giving pride of place to heavenly things and not earthly things.
In Genesis (2:15), we are told to “…cultivate the earth and care for it.” This indicates that there is dignity in work and all should feed themselves by the sweat of their faces. Thus we are urged to till the soil for our rice, to manufacture cars, ships, trains, jets, bicycles for our travel needs, to build houses to live in, go on doing honest business, etc. It is from this honest labor that we acquire things. Some become very successful and give the credit solely to human effort. All these achievements shall be inherited by some lazy fellow. So Ecclesiastes (1:2, 2:21-23) tells us that “…all things are vanity.” So why the anxiety and stress in the search for acquiring material things which will be taken over by another who has not labored for them?
It is this inheritance that someone in the crowd told Jesus to ask his brother to give him what should come to him by right. Jesus told them the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12: 13-21). This rich man had toiled and gained a lot of harvest. He put down his small stores, built bigger ones and said to himself, “…you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry.” The man was convinced that the food he gathered shall ensure continuity of living. But he was told, “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” In this way Jesus taught the man who sought his inheritance from his brother not to be greedy. The same applies to us.
In a similar vein Paul admonished the Christian community of Colossae (3:1-5, 9-11) “…If you were raised with Christ [through baptism], seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” This augurs well with the words of Jesus: “…Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and other things shall be given to you.” Paul goes on to insist that all followers of Jesus should strive to become more and more like Jesus and to rid themselves of impurity, immorality, idolatry, and evil desires.
From the three readings of today we can learn that there is no need to stress ourselves by seeking only material things that do not last. Earthly achievements should not be attributed to our human effort alone and that material things do not ensure length of earthly life. We should not be greedy and use all kinds of means to acquire things but rather our concern should be to seek becoming more like Jesus. This reminds me of the song: “Lord I want to be like Jesus in my heart; …more holy,…more loving.” “Praise the Lord, now and forever.” Amen.