Think of What is Above, Not of What is on Earth

07-31-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh Iorchir, VC

In his quest to sieve out meaning in life, Qoheleth, the author of the book of Ecclesiastes mentally interrogated pleasure, wealth, knowledge, labor and other noble endeavors, and came to the sad conclusion that all these were temporary, fleeting and ultimately unsatisfying. He therefore decided that all earthly appendages amount to vanity. This conclusion renders the primitive accumulation and senseless hoarding of earthly possessions, presumed earthly guarantees of security, a complete exercise in futility. True happiness and peace can never be obtained from what we have or achieve.

St. Paul held this truth to be self-evident. He encouraged the Colossians to “think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” For the Apostle to the Gentiles, the old self has undergone metaphorical death in every Christian, it is now Christ who lives in us. Thus, the redeemed ought to put to death all mundane residues of the old life like immorality, impurity, sensual passion, evil desire and greed. Paul’s teaching achieves thematic coherence with Qoheleth’s classification of earthly pleasures, knowledge and toil as vanity; it is our pursuit and hoarding of the things of this world that lead us to a pitiable retrogression to unconverted Christianity.

In the Gospel passage this weekend, Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool who planned to hoard and enjoy the proceeds of his labor after achieving a bountiful harvest. We notice that it is not the honest production of wealth in itself that merits him some Divine rebuke from Christ. The rich harvest could have been an indication of his practice of natural virtues: prudence, self discipline and hard work. What earned him condemnation from Jesus was the intent to hoard and selfishly consume his wealth without thinking of others in his community. There is no indication of expressed gratitude and one needs only to note the number of times he referred to himself within the relatively short passage to decipher his horrific selfishness.

God’s blessings to us are not meant to be hoarded or selfishly consumed in self indulgence. Every truly converted Christian is called to be a conduit through which God’s blessings can reach all His children with special consideration for those on the margins of life. God is in the business of blessing His children and we are the “sale agents”, the retailers who take such blessings to everyone

May grace aid us to grow beyond seeking happiness and peace in the things of this world and may we be afforded the generosity that would habitually move us to see the need of others and share with them that which God has graciously blessed us with.

Please be kind and may God bless you.

Fr. Manasseh