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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Aug. 4, 2013

By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service

August 4, Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle C. Readings:

1) Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23

Psalm 90:3-6, 12-14, 17

2) Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11

Gospel: Luke 12:13-21

"Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!" So says the writer of Ecclesiastes, and when I am honest, I say right back, "Guilty as charged!" In this particular rant about vanity, he is exhorting against overwork, being stressed out by schedules so much that it seems like stress is our occupation with our minds running so fast that we cannot sleep at night. Anyone else want to ride the guilt train alongside me on this one?

Just from reading my Facebook newsfeed, I see that the people I know are busy. Families with small children post agendas for their morning routine that exhaust me. The college students I work with go to class, study, work and socialize like there is no tomorrow (probably because their today usually ends tomorrow).

Then there are the people I run into at the store or at a party. I start the conversation with the classic opening: "How are things?" and the answer almost always is some variation of "Good. Busy, but good."

If the adage is true that the more things change the more they stay the same, then it is no wonder that something written 2,300 years ago can so aptly apply to today's culture. The rest of this week's readings shed some light on how to rid ourselves of this particular vanity.

St. Paul urges us to seek what is above, not what is on the earth. In other words, to not be so consumed with the here and now, the toils of the day and the concerns of tomorrow that we lose sight of the reality that our truest life is not found in the things of earth.

In the Gospel, Jesus calls us to seek to be rich in what matters to God and not seek to store up earthly riches. To be sure, these Scriptures are not calling us all to quit our jobs and lie in a hammock dreaming about the kingdom of God. Rather, it is a matter of perspective. Vanity of vanities turns to sanity when we shift our focus off the earthly prize and back to our heavenly home, our baptismal call to holiness and to the personification of peace itself, Jesus.


What are your "vanities"? On a scale of 1-10, how busy are you? What are some things you can do to slow down and seek what is above?


"If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above." -- Colossians 3:1


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