Jesus is clear-headedness in person. He brings to light the vanity, the emptiness, of the life of those who love and serve money.
Jesus grants and does not grant what a man who feels disinherited asks him to do. For, in the first place, the Teacher says “no.” He is not of those who think, with a bit of vanity maybe, that they take the place of the judges who helped Moses.
But, in the second place, Jesus grants what the one who is looking for an arbitrator needs most. What, in fact, the plaintiff, the defendant and all need most. For if we guard against all greed, there will be no such problem as siblings’ quarrel about inheritance. Nor will one fall prey to vanity.
Jesus reminds us, yes, of the vanity, the emptiness, of the life of not a few folks. The life of those who do their utmost and give their all to get rich. He holds up what Ps 39 teaches in part on vanity: Humans go by like a shadow, the riches they hoard —not knowing for whom— are mere breath.
And it is not that he says money is bad in itself. Nor can we deny that it is a driving force in life. But one thing is to seek it to put food on the table, pay bills, stay healthy in mind and body. And quite another to hoard it as if it were the highest good, the end, not just a means to the end. Is it not crazy to mistake one for the other?
No taint of greed or vanity
Jesus, of course, wants us to be wise and clear-headed, free of greed and vanity. And to be what he wants us to be, it is enough for us to contemplate him. That is to say, to take a long and loving look at him.
For all he is and does shows wisdom and clear-headedness. His words and works, his poor and simple life, his going about to do good teach us how to avoid vanity.
He lets us know that to be wise is to trust and believe strongly in God who loves and cares for all he has made. God gives food to the birds and clothes to the lilies. He will feed and clothe, for sure, those who are worth more than the birds and the lilies.
After all, we cannot trust in the goods we amass. They will fail us one day. Hence, it will be wise if we do not hoard them just for our well-being, comfort and fun. We can use them, for instance, to make friends who will then welcome us in hard times.
Yes, we of the light should at least be as creative as those of this world. But if we like to win against the world, we will have to be as creative as Jesus. In other words, we will be free of greed and vanity if we are and do as our Teacher. If we share who we are and what we have as he, to the end. To the giving up of the body and the shedding of blood. In this mystery and in all that it makes known lies what it means to be infinitely creative (SV.EN XI:131).
Lord Jesus, grant that we avoid all vanity and seek what is above, and think more of it than of what is on earth.
31 July 2022
18th Sunday T.O. (C)
Eccles 1, 2; 2, 21-23; Col 3, 1-5. 9-11; Lc 12, 13-21