18th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

     Each of us has those things in our lives that bring us fulfillment and there’s certainly nothing wrong with enjoying the many good things this world has to offer, but at the same time we must be on guard against making those things such a priority in our lives that they cause us to be distracted from what God really wants for us. Today’s readings remind us of the need for a spirit of detachment, for a spirit that recognizes as nice as some of the things of this world are, they are nothing compared to what is to come, they are all vanities as the author of today’s first reading reminds us. Death will come for all of us and we will not be able to take any of our earthly possessions with us. Death is the great leveler; it renders what this world holds as valuable, valueless. When we recognize that one day, all of the things of this world will pass away, we also have to recognize that there is nothing in this world which can ultimately satisfy our deepest longings.

     There is always a temptation to turn to various worldly things like money, alcohol, possessions, popularity, power or even success to satisfy our deepest desires, but today’s readings warn us that all of these things will pass away. While it can be tempting to believe that pleasure is the source and summit of our lives, we know that while they can bring us some pleasure, that pleasure ultimately fades. For if earthly pleasure really fulfilled us, why are there so many miserable people in Hollywood? So we must recognize that “the Christian optimism is based on the fact that we don’t fit into the world.”[1]

     “Today, it would be good for all of us to ask ourselves sincerely: in whom do we place our trust? In ourselves, in material things, or in Jesus? We all have the temptation often to put ourselves at the centre, to believe that we are the axis of the universe, to believe that we alone build our lives or to think that our life can only be happy if built on possessions, money, or power. But we all know that it is not so. Certainly, possessions, money and power can give a momentary thrill, the illusion of being happy, but they end up possessing us and making us always want to have more, never satisfied. And we end up “full”, but not nourished.”[2]

     Jesus holds out a different path for us, the path of detachment. He reminds us that it is God who created us, who loves us and promises to satisfy our deepest longings, not simply for this world, but in the eternal life to come. Yet this path is difficult because it requires a great deal of trust on our part. It requires us to trust that it truly was God who made us with a soul that is meant to live on in eternity and that He will make good on His promise.

     Ultimately Jesus only demands one thing from us, that we trust in Him. I dare say if we look back to the darkest moments of our lives I think we will see moments where we were tempted to believe that God doesn’t love us, that He doesn’t care for us, that He’s not interested in us and even that He does not even exist. When we begin to believe these lies, the only logical step  is to do whatever we want and be on with our lives. While there may be times where we lose some of that trust in God, I think we have to ask ourselves, do we want the ways of the world, that often let us down, or do we want to submit to the infinite power of God? Whatever our musing and dreams, each of us must ask ourselves a simple yet demanding question, what do I really want and we must recall that “it is impossible, in fact, for man to find true happiness which he desires naturally in any limited good, because his intelligence at once seizes on this limit, and thus conceives a higher good, and thus his will naturally desires the higher good.”[3]

     God has promised us an eternity of happiness if we strive to follow after Him. He has promised that He will satisfy our immortal souls in a way that nothing in this world can, He only asks us to be detached from the things of this world in order that we may be more firmly attached to Him.

     At the end of our lives, the only thing we will have to offer God is a life well lived, rich in meaning and not in vanity. He wants a soul that is richly adorned with attitudes and personality characteristics that reflect the life of Jesus. Yet we live in such a distracted world, where we often become so attached to our daily lives, that we fail to pause and recognize that this life is just a journey towards an eternal life.

     We live in a world that lives the famous motto, eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. While it is certainly true that we will die, we will die into eternal life and so it behooves us to listen closely to St. Paul who advocates for a Christ centered life. A life that is well lived on earth; a life that will qualify us for the heavenly banquet; a life that will truly satisfy us.

[1] G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy 1905 Reprint in Lexington, KY April 2013. Ppg 79

[2] Pope Francis, Welcoming Ceremony for the young people on the occasion of the 2013 World Youth Day. https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2013/july/documents/papa-francesco_20130725_gmg-giovani-rio.html

[3] Reginald Garrigou-LeGrange, O.P. Everlasting Life. Rockford: Tan Publishing.(1952). Pg 10.

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