Be Defined by our Possessions — or our Generosity

07-31-2022(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

This Sunday’s readings are not subtle.

The first reading begins, “Vanity of vanities, all things are vanity!” If you are familiar with the proper translation—this isn’t talking about self-obsession. This is actually saying everything is fleeting. Beauty, status, wealth. This life goes by incredibly fast and you can’t take any of it with you. As Rose Totino once said, “You never see a U-Haul hitched to the back of a Hearse.”

It goes on to say that people who strive for money toil to build up wealth only for it to be dispersed to others who did nothing to earn it.

The Gospel doesn’t pull punches either. It says, “though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Not my words. (Jesus said it.)

I think of the toddler who spends their entire playdate trying to keep the other child from their toys. They lose out on all the fun and before they know it, time’s up.

We all have a choice. Every single one of us. We can be defined by our possessions—or our generosity.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells the story of a wealthy man who’d built up great wealth. When the man explains his plan for the wealth (“rest, eat, drink, be merry” - completely focused on himself), God gets righteously angry.

“You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?”

The reading ends, “Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”

You know what this tells me?

When our time comes, we better have lived lives defined by our generosity. That is the attitude of a disciple of Christ. That is one of the common traits of the saints. Giving whatever we have to give in this short stop before heaven.

What can you support? Who can you bless? Your kindness will come back to you tenfold. For God is never outdone.