Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: August 1, Lectionary #115. 18th Sunday (C). Eccl. 1:2;2:21-23.
Psalm 95:1-2,6-7,8-9. Colossians 3:1-5.9-11. Luke 12:13-21:

Our first reading is from a book of Wisdom called Kohelet or Ecclesiastes
meaning the Preacher in a congregation. The twelve chapters are more
philosophical than religious and they have a modern tone of sarcasm and
cynicism about them.  It was approved in the Hebrew canon only after some
redactional emendations were made.  Inspiration and revelation are of
divine origin but they have been touched up by the humanness of the
authors.   It is based on life experiences of an elderly person who is
going on the pseudonym of Solomon. It stresses how futile and vain most of
our human efforts are; we should try to enjoy life as much as possible but
it all is vanity or a breath of smoke that passes quickly.  How do we read
this book among the books of the Bible?  With the help of a good commentary
and some serious reflection on the humanness of the author who wrote it. He
was a pessimist and a budding rationalist. As Christians we could see a
serious minded person as reflecting on this thought of Jesus, "What does it
profit one to gain the whole world and lose one's soul." In the more modern
Jewish commentaries it applies to human vanity and foolishness in actions
that are just done for oneself, but those actions that are done for others
are worthwhile only if they are involved with Torah and labor for God.
"According to this book, God--ruler of the universe--loves justice, but in
this world all is fortuitous with only death certain." (Encylcopedia of the
Jewish Religion).

The Psalm Response is a great invitatory praise of God that helps us to get
out of the spell of pessimism and become wise by rendering to God all that
is due to him in a prayer such as this.  It is a great psalm for starting
off each day and is suggested by the Divine Office as the beginning of its
recitation.  The psalm tells us what to do in order to remain faithful to

St. Paul's message to us in Colossians continues a theme of wisdom. It also
lists things we should not do which are the opposite of wisdom. Thus it
balances the message of Kohelet with a positive way of looking at life. Our
hearts must be set on the higher things and not on vanity and foolish

Finally, the Gospel is telling us to allow our hearts to be focused upon
God and God's gifts to us. "Where your heart is there is your treasure." It
again suggests that a search for riches and pleasure and creature comforts
is to be associated with vanity. Jesus interprets the parable for us as we
come to the end of our passage about the man who builds bigger and better
barns for his rich harvest---"To whom will all of this piled-up wealth of
yours go? That is the way it works with the man who grows rich for himself
instead of growing rich in the sight of God." (Luke 13: 20-21). Fr. Viviano
notes, "Note how frequently in this verse (17) and in vv18-19,the "fool"
uses "I" and "my". His egotistical concerns eliminate God and neighbor from
sight...What is life all about? Luke gives his own answer to the question
in verse 20: Find the meaning of life by acknowledging God and giving alms
to the needy." Amen.