Liturgy of the Sunday

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Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time


First Reading

Ecclesiastes 1,2; 2,21-23

Sheer futility, Qoheleth says. Sheer futility: everything is futile! For here is one who has laboured wisely, skilfully and successfully and must leave what is his own to someone who has not toiled for it at all. This is futile too, and grossly unjust; for what does he gain for all the toil and strain that he has undergone under the sun- since his days are full of sorrow, his work is full of stress and even at night he has no peace of mind? This is futile too.

Psalmody

Psalm 89

Antiphon

May the favour of the Lord rest upon us.

O Lord, you have been our refuge
from one generation to the next.

Before the mountains were born
or the earth or the world brought forth,
you are God, without beginning or end.

You turn men back into dust
and say: 'Go back, sons of men'

To your eyes a thousand years
are like yesterday, come and gone,
no more than a watch in the night.

You sweep men away like a dream
like grass which springs up in the morning.

In the morning it springs up and flowers;
by evening it withers and fades.

So we are destroyed in your anger
struck with terror in your fury.

Our guilt lies open before you;
our secrets in the light of your face.

All our days pass away in your anger.
Our life is over like a sigh.

Our span is seventy years
or eighty for those who are strong.

And most of these are emptiness and pain.
They pass swiftly and we are gone.

Who understands the power of your anger
and fears the strength of your fury?

Make us know the shortness of our life
that we may gain wisdom of heart.

Lord, relent! Is your anger for ever?
Show pity to your servants.

In the morning, fill us with your love;
we shall exult and rejoice all our days.

Give us joy to balance our affliction
for the years when we knew misfortune.

Show forth your work to your servants;
let your glory shine on their children.

Let the favour of the Lord be upon us:
give success to the work of our hands.

Second Reading

Colossians 3,1-5.9-11

Since you have been raised up to be with Christ, you must look for the things that are above, where Christ is, sitting at God's right hand. Let your thoughts be on things above, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed -- and he is your life-you, too, will be revealed with him in glory. That is why you must kill everything in you that is earthly: sexual vice, impurity, uncontrolled passion, evil desires and especially greed, which is the same thing as worshipping a false god; and do not lie to each other. You have stripped off your old behaviour with your old self, and you have put on a new self which will progress towards true knowledge the more it is renewed in the image of its Creator; and in that image there is no room for distinction between Greek and Jew, between the circumcised and uncircumcised, or between barbarian and Scythian, slave and free. There is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 12,13-21

A man in the crowd said to him, 'Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.' He said to him, 'My friend, who appointed me your judge, or the arbitrator of your claims?' Then he said to them, 'Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for life does not consist in possessions, even when someone has more than he needs.' Then he told them a parable, 'There was once a rich man who, having had a good harvest from his land, thought to himself, "What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops." Then he said, "This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them, and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time." But God said to him, "Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?" So it is when someone stores up treasure for himself instead of becoming rich in the sight of God.'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Homily

The Gospel of this Sunday opens with a question asked by two brothers; they ask Jesus to intervene in a dispute about inheritance. In fact dealing with last wills, many relatives look at each other with hostility and are ready to prevaricate one over the other to grasp the better part of inheritance! Jesus refuses to intervene on this level. He is not a teacher of how to divide up property. He intervenes in people's hearts, not their inheritance. For the two brothers, the real problem is not things, but their hearts, which are full of greed. Jesus turns to everyone present and says, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." Jesus does not want to look down on earthly goods; he know well that they are useful. But those who seek their happiness relying only on goods, invest falsely.
The parable that follows is an illustration of this. The protagonist is a rich landowner whose business has gone very well. He has even to build more barns in which to store his enormous harvest. The problem is obviously not the production of wealth in itself, but the landowner's attitude. For him the accumulation of material possessions for himself, or at most for his family, equals tranquillity and happiness. But there is foolishness in his calculations: he has taken into account everything except the most important thing: the hour of his death. He thought about his days, but not his last day. And we all know that when we die, we take nothing with us except the love and the good we have done. In his letter to the Colossians the apostle Paul says, "Set your minds on things that are above, not on the things that are on earth." The things that are above are not abstract; they are love and the good works we do on earth. They are the true riches that are neither consumed nor stolen. Earthly possessions can be useful for heaven if they are subjected to the rule of love and compassion. If our goods are made available to the poor and the weak, they will become true wealth for heaven. We could say that giving goods to the poor means banking them at the highest interest. Those who accumulate not only for themselves enrich before God, says Jesus. In our world, where accumulating for oneself seems to have become the only true rule of life, this Gospel sounds scandalous. In truth, it is the wisest way to overcome divisions and clashes, and to build a life of greater solidarity and happiness.