Sunday, August 1, 2010

Vanity of Vanities

Today's first reading for the Sunday Liturgy of the Word is from Ecclesiastes, one the great "wisdom" books of the Bible. Ecclesiastes is the name given to the book of Holy Scripture which usually follows the Proverbs; the Hebrew Qoheleth probably has the same meaning. The word preacher, however, is not meant to suggest a congregation nor a public speech, but only the solemn announcement of sublime truths.

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!

Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill, and yet to another who has not labored over it, he must leave property.
This also is vanity and a great misfortune.
For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which he has labored under the sun?
All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation;
even at night his mind is not at rest.
This also is vanity.

In the frantic pace of the modern society we labor for things that are of no value, to whom it really matters. You get older and you don't have the energy or time to play with all toys you've accumulated, or perhaps your health robs you of those things too. What about those people who have had their life savings lost by unscrupulous people like Bernard Madoff who stole billions of dollars, or Enron and the Stanford Group?

Jesus the Wise Teacher warns us today " Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”

The saints, whose lives are the examples by which we may learn, never put much emphasis on the material stuff of this world. Once you have tasted the sweetness of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the riches of this world pale by comparison. Work for the true treasure - God's Kingdom.

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