Homily  18th Sunday of Year C. Fr. Michael Udoekpo· Eccl 1:2; 2:21-23
· Ps 90:3-4, 5-6,12-13
· Col 3: 1-5,9-11
· Luke 12:13-21
The Meaning of Life is found in SharingWhen we were growing up as teenagers we had different nick names….. A good friend of mine took “Experience” as his nick name. And often when asked why he did that, he said, he liked it, particularly, because of the common expression: “experience is the best teacher.” Experience about what, one may ask? I guess about life as a whole. The common theme of today’s reading is built around life experiences of a 3rd century BC, anonymous preacher and teacher known as Koholeth, or Ecclesiastes, today’s 1st reading.
Koheleth lived among his brothers and sisters, his contemporaries, who were so greedy, pessimistic, selfish, and attached to material wealth, possessions, power, career, human recognitions, earthly things, and fame. Based on his experience the preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes, is convinced that life is found in sharing with our needy neighbors all the blessings that God has blessed each of us with: time, treasure and talents (TTT).
For him, greedy acquisition of material things is useless after death. Qoholeth uses the familiar expression “vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” In his ancient languages, Hebrew and Greek this sounds like Hevel hevelim, hakol hevel or matoiotēs matoiotētōn… translated as emptiness, nothingness, futility, breath, perishable, void, transitory etc. For “what profit comes to a man from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which he has labored under the sun?” he asked. Material things, earthly things that we have will pass. We can only preserve them spiritually, heavenly, if we use it well to love God and our neighbors. Without God all that we have is useless.
Similarly, Saint Paul, in the 2nd reading, while speaking to the Colossians church, who were also anxious for material things, re-directs their attention to Christ and things that are above, heavenly and spiritual. Paul says, “Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and the greed that is idolatry.”
In the Gospel parable of the foolish rich, man (Luke 12:13-21) who thought he would not die soon, Christ warns us against all types of greed and possessiveness to fame, honor and material things. Of course, all these sound familiar to us today. They sound counter cultural to the way we live today and what we like most today in place of God: money, fame, material things, those passion spoken of by Saint Paul in the 2nd reading, and attachment to human recognitions. What are your idolatrous greed?Many of us have witnessed wealthy, beautiful and handsome celebrities and famous people come and go. Needless of naming names here...! What matters most is how they lived their lives and shared their wealth and talents. Talents or wealth here is not limited to finance. Even though we may be financially poor, some of us may be rich with good smiles, sense of humor, intelligence, gift of counselling, ability to encourage, empower, uplift and support others. Christ invites us today to control our various forms of greed: search for others approval, recognition, excessive eating, drinking, gambling habits, playing pokemon excessively, control of others, power and materialism. He invites us today to look heavenly and be always generous in sharing our blessings and life with our neighbors, since life is too short, and all is vanity! An unshared life is not worth living!