User’s Guide to Sunday
By Tom and April Hoopes
Sunday, Aug. 1, is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, Cycle II).
Aug. 1, noon: Pope Benedict XVI prays his Sunday Angelus at his summer residence.
Aug. 4, 10am: Pope Benedict gives his Wednesday audience in St. Peter’s Square.
Aug. 6 is the feast of the Transfiguration. Don’t forget to pray the Luminous Mysteries and read the Gospel passages beforehand so the family remembers what this day is about. (Find them here.)
It’s also a good day to revisit By Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride by Alice Von Hildebrand, available from online booksellers in book form, but also available to read at EWTN’s website.
The analogy about “Tabor Vision” in the book is extremely helpful and beneficial to married life.
Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23; Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9; Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11; Luke 12:13-21
Today’s readings are about our true home and how to avoid mistaking anything else for it.
“Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,” in the beginning of the first reading. “All things are vanity!”
His words are very much tailored for the attitudes prevalent in the 21st century. We tend to link our identity and self-worth to our career. When we meet someone, we don’t ask, “What religion are you?” or “What are your hobbies?” We ask: “Where do you work?”
Yet, as Qoheleth points out, all that work will come to nothing in the end. All that we work for will be given to others.
Then he has some choice phrases describing careerism: He calls it “toil and anxiety of heart.” For the worker, “sorrow and grief are his occupation.” The stress is so complete that, for the worker, “even at night his mind is not at rest.”
His conclusion? This world is vanity; we were made for more.
St. Paul in the second reading agrees: “Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.”
He says to “put to death” the parts of you that keep obsessing about worldly things. He even names them: “immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.”
He also puts group identities into the “vanity” category. “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.”
That’s a good description of what our true home looks like — and it’s a good description of the Catholic Church.
With this true home in mind, we can understand what Jesus has in mind in the Gospel.
Someone in the crowd appeals directly to Jesus about an important family issue: “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” It seems to be a fair question.
Jesus doesn’t deny the request so much as he forces the requester to ask what is at the heart of his question.
“Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” he asks, and later adds, “One’s life does not consist of possessions.”
He then tells them the story of the Rich Man who mistook where his true home was.
He stored up his bountiful harvest and made ready to eat, drink and be merry — not realizing that his death was imminent.
God’s instruction sounds exactly like Qoheleth’s: “‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”
God gives him three pieces of good advice:
1. The universal destination of goods. God points out that all the things that “belong” to him don’t really belong to him at all, which means all his efforts at amassing things weren’t just a wasted effort — they were a kind of dishonesty. It’s the poor who inherit the earth, not the rich who collect it.
2. The folly of riches. When he says “thus will it be for all who store up treasure,” he means it. Anyone who spends this kind of money and effort on building a home here on earth is destined to discover that his property is going to be taken out from under him.
3. Store up heavenly riches. He also says it is possible to “store up heavenly riches.” Presumably, this means that we can start inhabiting our true home with Christ even now. Find it in front of the tabernacle.
Tom and April write from Atchison, Kansas, where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.