18th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C
VANITY OF VANITIES
The word "vanity" usually refers to an excessive love of one's appearance, but in the book of Ecclesiastes it has a different meaning. The English word means "emptiness" or "nothing", so a "vanity of vanities" literally means "a complete waste of time." The author calls himself "Qoheleth," which is translated "one who assembles" or "teacher".
He is cynical about life, having lived a long time and seen the futility of much of his work. His book ends with a simple truth: the only worthwhile thing about life is the knowledge of God.
Israel was a country ruled by religious laws. People often called upon a Rabbi to assist in legal decisions; hence a man asks Jesus to intervene in a matter of inheritance. Our Lord refuses and turns the conversation into a teaching against materialism. He illustrates this with a story about a prosperous farmer who decides to hoard his excess crops. The rich man decides to build extra barns or grain silos. Jesus seems to be suggesting that the farmer should have shared his extra grain with the poor. It is a variation on the motto, "you can't take it with you."
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