Reflections

EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, JULY 31, 2022

WHAT BRINGS US HAPPINESS THAT LASTS?
Greeting (Cf. Second Reading)
There is only Christ:
he is everything
and he is in everything.
He has brought us back to true life.
May his grace and peace be with you.
R/ And with your spirit.
 
Introduction
What do we consider most important in life? The message of today confronts us with this question. And it is basic for our Christian living. Are there more important things for us than money, goods and power? Do we find love of God and neighbour, friendship and affection and concern for each other greater and lasting and worthy of living for? What is the answer we give Jesus today?
However, we all need the things that are necessary for life, but our human experience keeps reminding us again and again of what Jesus told us in the gospel long ago: accumulating riches does not bring happiness! The joy of living does not depend on full granaries or fat bank accounts. The quality of life and its joy depend rather on how much we love the Lord and one another and on how far we can share what we have. That is how we become rich in the sight of God. In this Eucharist we ask our Lord that he bring us joy and happiness along with his friendship.
 
Penitential Act
What Are We Living for?
With empty hands and hearts we stand before the Lord
and ask him to forgive and heal us.
(pause)
 
Lord Jesus, you were born in poverty.
When we look too much for a life of comfort,
Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.
 
Jesus Christ, you had no stone
on which to let your head rest.
When we put our security in the things we have,
Christ, have mercy. R/ Christ, have mercy.
 
Lord Jesus, your concern was
God’s honor and the joy of people.
When we fail to share with those in need,
Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.
 
Have mercy on us, Lord,
and forgive us our greed
and our overconcern for material things
Make us generous in sharing
and lead us to everlasting life. R/ Amen.
 
Opening Prayer
Let us pray
that we may use this earth’s goods wisely
in the service of God and people
(pause)
 
Father, you care, and so in you we trust.
Our hearts are divided,
yet we have to provide care and security
to those we love.
Do not allow greed to blind us
so as to pile up goods we do not need
and things that do not really matter.
Make us generous sharers of what we have
with the hungry and the poor,
that we may become rich in your sight.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.
 
First Reading (Ecclesiasticus 1:2; 2:21-23): What Will Remain in the End?
The author of the first reading speaks from sad experience: possessions and human endeavors alone do not guarantee happiness. He does not give a solution, but poses the problem very poignantly.
 
1 Reading: ECCLESIASTICUS 1:2; 2:21-23
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 laboured 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.
 
Responsorial PSALM 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 and 17
R. (1) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
 
You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night. R.
 
You make an end of them in their sleep;
the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades. R.
 
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants! R.
 
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands! R.
 
Second Reading (Colossians 3:1-5,9-11): Aim High!
The sense of life and our true values, says St. Paul, lie beyond this life on earth, for we have become new in Christ; Christ is our everything.
 
2 Reading: COLOSSIANS 3:1-5, 9-11
Brothers and sisters: If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory. Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.
 
Alleluia: Matthew 5:3
Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 
Gospel (Loke 12:13-21): Our Riches Is God
Our riches are to be found in God; possessions give us no security, for only God can give lasting happiness.
 
Gospel: LUKE 12:13-21
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’ But God said to him, ‘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.”
 
Commentary
True Home and Destiny
The book of Ecclesiastes laments the meaninglessness and irony of human life. Paul asks Colossians to set one’s mind on the things from above. Jesus relativizes earthly riches and invites us to seek to be wealthy in the eyes of God.
In the 1989 movie ‘Dead Poets Society’, John Keating, the new English teacher, leads his students towards a group photo of senior alumni (who are all now dead), displayed prominently in the school. Referring to them, Keating observes: “The world was their oyster. They believed they were destined for greatness…. But these boys are now fertilizing daffodils.” Shocking imagery, but so very true! How we obsess about many material achievements in life, as if we would live forever! We live as if death happens to someone else, and not to us! Once a woman in her late 80s came to me to discuss her end-of-life decisions. While speaking, she repeatedly used the phrase, “if I die…” I gently said to her: “Perhaps you might want to say, ‘when I die.’” She stood stunned for a moment and then broke into a smile of recognition.
Pray for a clear awareness about our true home and destiny.
Spend some time in a cemetery, meditating on the fragility of life.
 
Intercessions
Let us pray now to God, the origin and final end of our riches, happiness and joy, and let us say:
R/ Lord, your kingdom come.
– For a poor and serving Church in which people try to have open hands and open hearts for all, let us pray:
R/ Lord, your kingdom come.
– For more justice and equality in our world; for effective political, social and economic reforms that allow people to enjoy the fruits of their work, material and spiritual goods, and the treasures of education and culture, let us pray:
R/ Lord, your kingdom come.
– For poets, artists and scientists, that they may help us to admire and enjoy the power and beauty of God’s creation and to give praise to God, let us pray:
R/ Lord, your kingdom come.
– For those who are rich and powerful, that they may learn to share; for the poor, the humble, the exploited, that they may find help and keep hoping, let us pray:
R/ Lord, your kingdom come.
– For all of us, that we may learn to enjoy the things of life: friendship and affection, unity and compassion, people who inspire us and even learn to love our enemies, let us pray:
R/ Lord, your kingdom come.
Lord our God, keep us attentive to the brittleness of all things we attach ourselves to. Make us share our goods and talents and keep us trusting in you, our riches and our hope, now and for ever. R/ Amen.
 
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
from your own gifts to us
we bring bread and wine before you.
Let them become the signs
in which Jesus gives himself to us.
May we learn from him
to use your gifts and our efforts
in the service of you and our neighbour,
that they may lead us to happiness
that lasts for ever and ever. R/ Amen.
 
Introduction to the Eucharistic Prayer
God has made us not the owners but the stewards of his creation. Let us thank him for his goodness and offer everything to him through Jesus.
 
Invitation to the Lord’s Prayer
With Jesus our Lord
we pray to our Father in heaven
for the things we need on the way to him: R/ Our Father…
 
Deliver Us
Deliver us, Lord, from every evil
and set us free from all attachments
that keep us from giving ourselves
to you and to people.
Help us to live in your hands,
as we prepare in joyful hope
for the coming in glory
of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. R/ For the kingdom…
 
Invitation to Communion
This is Jesus our Lord,
who became poor to make us rich
in grace and wisdom and love.
Happy are we to receive him
as the Father’s free gift. R/ Lord, I am not worthy…
 
Prayer after Communion
God, giver of all good gifts,
we have received your Son from you.
You want us to enjoy the good things of life
and at the same time
not to let them become our masters.
Give us enough faith, Lord,
to make us see that, however much we have,
we are still poor if you are not our riches
and that we are rich, even in poverty,
when we have you and your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.
 
Blessing
It was good to reflect together
on the relative value of the things we have.
Yes, let us enjoy without scruple
the simple, God-given things of everyday life.
But let us always remain free,
as we are liberated by Jesus our Lord;
we are never again to be enslaved
to anyone or to anything.
And let us share with one another
our friendship, our joys, our goods,
with the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. R/ Amen.
 
Let us go in the peace and security of Christ.
R/ Thanks be to God.

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