Gift, foundation and neighbour.
A reflection on the Sunday reading
Daily Reading for Sunday July 31, 2022
Reading 1, Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21–23
Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 95:1–2, 6–7, 8–9
Gospel, Luke 12:13–21
Reading 2, Colossians 3:1–5, 9–11
Dear friends in the Lord, we have the first reading from one of the most difficult books in the Bible, the Ecclesiastes. The word vanity is used 37 times in the book of Ecclesiastes. Hebrew word for vanity is Hevel. The literal meaning of Hebrew word Hevel is vapour or smoke, which shows the momentariness of various things. Along with that understanding of vanity as useless, it is important to remember that “momentary” dimension. But one of the last verses of the book reminds us that (Cf 12:7) the only foundation of human life is on the breath, again a very momentary thing, but it’s a gift of God. The book of Genesis and symbols of Holy spirit are the best evidence for this. When that foundation is forgotten, life really becomes useless. Paul will say Christ is the foundation; we all are different; these different identities are gifts; as we forget that dimension of gift or forget the giver, they become divisive options. As Paul says, Christ is all, and in all.
In the gospel of Luke, we have the parable of a rich man receiving an abundant harvest. I would consider them as a blessing. But his plan of building greater storage space for the fruits didn’t go down well with Jesus. Probably he forgot the giver. As long as we can understand or experience various blessings as gifts from God, we will continue to create our foundation in God.
St Ignatius of Loyola would advise the retreatants to pray with all the senses; to experience with all the senses the gospel scene they are praying. The rich man in the parable of rich man and Lazarus never really saw Lazarus; the priest and the levite in the parable of good Samaritan never really saw the injured jew. The rich man of today’s parable too didn’t see the people around him. A foundation in God will inevitably see and hear my neighbour.
I find it a scandal when the most developed country in the world, and surely a Christian country in the world, like US have so many poor people. Let’s forget them and probably look to our own communities and parishes. For those who are already doing their bit of sharing, this reading is a consolation for you. For others, including me, it is an invitation to share more.
There are three words… gift, foundation and neighbour. How we connect them and live our Christian life is something for us to discover and grow. We have the examples of saints. We have the examples of many people around us, who live these three words so dearly in their life.
As we celebrate the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, these three words/themes played a significant role in his life. The foundation of his life was always God. He encouraged the retreatants and friends to be constantly aware of God’s gift in our lives. And surely his life was to “ love and serve” God in all things, which inevitably includes God and the creation.