We are to live with our bodies here on earth but with our souls and our minds thinking of heaven

Homily for the Eighteenth Sunday of Year C

by Fr. Tommy Lane

Years ago a Chicago restaurant had specially printed place mats at all its tables. The mats were designed exclusively for the restaurant. And if you asked the waitress, she’d give you one to take home, frame, and hang on your wall…The wording that appeared on those mats…went something like this: “In 1923 an important meeting took place at Chicago’s Edgewater Beach Hotel. Attending the meeting were the following men: “the president of the largest steel company, the president of the largest utility company, the president of the largest gas company, the president of the New York Stock Exchange, the president of the Bank of International Settlements, the greatest wheat speculator, the greatest bear on Wall Street, the head of the world’s greatest monopoly, a member of President Harding’s cabinet.”…Yet, 25 years later, where were those nine industrial giants? According to the story on the place mat, the president of the largest steel company, Charles Schwab, died a bankrupt; the president of the largest utility company, Samuel Insull, died penniless; the president of the largest gas company, Howard Hobson, had gone insane; the president of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney, was just released from prison; the bank president, Leon Fraser, died a suicide; the wheat speculator, Arthur Cutten, died penniless; The Wall Street bear, Jesse Livermore, died a suicide; the head of the world’s greatest monopoly, Ivar Kruegar, died a suicide; the member of President Harding’s cabinet, Albert Fall, was just given a pardon from prison so that he could die at home.
(From Illustrated Sunday Homilies Year C by Fr. Mark Link S.J.)

This illustrates what Jesus said in the Gospel today,

“Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

The speaker of first reading, Qoheleth, which means “the Preacher,” whom the Book of Ecclesiastes asks us understand as King Solomon, echoes the sentiment of Jesus in the Gospel,

“Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” (Eccl 1:2)

How right he is. There is indeed much vanity in life. There are two types of riches, the treasure of this world and the riches of heaven. Jesus said,

“Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.” (Luke 12:21)

Sometimes unfortunately we become so engrossed in the riches of this world that we forget the riches of heaven.

What a grace we have been given to be sons and daughters of God since baptism. What opportunities for peace and happiness. As we heard in our second reading,

“…you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.” (Col 3:1-4)

This means we are to live with our bodies here on earth but with our souls and minds thinking of heaven. When we were baptized we died to a meaningless way of life, we died to being possessed by our possessions, we died to being owned by our bank accounts, and we were raised up with Christ. As the reading says, we are to “seek what is above where Christ is…” because “your life is hidden with Christ in God” and we will be glorified in the next life, “When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.” Think of all that God has prepared for us as we pass from this world and how foolish it is to become so preoccupied sometimes with what really doesn’t matter. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the Father says to the elder son who was sulking outside, “everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31). Our heavenly Father says to us, all the riches of heaven are ours. How foolish that sometimes we forget and seek vain treasure instead. We are to live with our bodies here on earth but with our souls and minds in heaven.

How can we do this? Our second reading gives some advice,

“Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.” (Col 3:5)

We could add some other suggestions. Remove everything from our lives that is not leading us to God. There is a lot of noise in the world that is not just blocking the voice of God but leading us away from God. Much of what is on TV, in magazines, on DVDs, the Internet, some types of music, does not lead us to God. I find it hard to believe that heavy rock music helps us to listen to God. If the TV or radio is on all day how can God speak to our souls? Remember Elijah did not find God in the strong wind, the earthquake or the fire, but in the gentle breeze.

“Then the Lord said, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord - but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake-- but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire - but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.” (1 Kgs 19:11-13)

We will not find God in the strong winds of our life, we need to foster a gentle breeze in our life to hear the voice of God. We are to live with our bodies here on earth but with our souls and minds thinking of heaven.

Removing from our lives what prevents us raising our minds to God is a good start. Then we will want to fill our lives with what leads us to God. Sacred pictures on the walls of our homes and holy statues and crucifixes are a help. Listening to sacred music is a help. Watching DVDs about sacred themes, e.g. the lives of the saints or about the Bible, are a help. There is much that we can do to help us live the advice of the second reading,

“…seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col 3:2-3)

There is a battle for our minds. We are being bombarded with so much propaganda everyday, propaganda about what will make us happy. There is an attempt to brainwash us into thinking that lifestyles contrary to the Gospel bring peace. That is why providing education has always been a very important part of the Church’s ministry. Who is winning the battle for your mind? Let Jesus win the battle for your mind. We are to live with our bodies here on earth but with our souls and minds thinking of heaven.

“Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

“Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.” (Luke 12:21)

“...seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col 3:2-3)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered in a parish in Maryland near where I have joined the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More homilies for the Eighteenth Sunday Year C

God is Offering You Millions, Don’t settle for pennies!

Become rich in the sight of God and trust in Jesus

Related Homilies: Enlightened to our Calling and Destiny

The glorious future awaiting us

Our Treasure in Heaven will be our Corporal Works of Mercy

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