Fullness of Life in Jesus Christ!
Readings: (1st: Sir 1, 2. 2, 21-23; Ps: 89, 3-6.12-14; 2nd: Col 3, 1-5. 9-11; Gos: Lk 12, 13- 21)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Phone: +23408063767512, +23408024942843
This 18th Sunday, the church enjoins us to evaluate and re-evaluate ourselves on the basis of what should be our fulcrum or focus in this world. It is a call to live a Christocentric life. This is coming at the heels of a time when directly or indirectly many Christians have apostasied. A simple principle in the study of light (optics) in physics is that the closer one comes to the light, the shorter or smaller ones shadow becomes. Whereas, the farther away one moves from light, the longer or larger ones shadow becomes. Of course, shadow is nothing but a mirage, a negation of reality or a flatus vocis that profits nothing. Therefore we are urged to focus our attention more on heavenly realities than on earthly shadows. Hence, we are to make frantic efforts to move towards Christ. It suffices to note here also, that this is not a call, not to live our lives to its fullest potentials here on earth. Rather, it is a warning to us that we are in a world that is transitory and passing away. It is a call to make use of the things of this world prudently to the extent that we do not mortgage our chances of our ultimate goal – HEAVEN. Hence, we are not to trust the arm of our own flesh in this journey because it will fail us. It is only when we make Jesus our focal point that the full meaning of other things and activities would be revealed and realized.
The first reading of this Sunday begins on a rather alarming note: “Vanity, vanity, the Preacher says vanity…!” It strikes a reality that most of us have lost sight of, but will one day come to terms with. Rather than being encouraged to live idle lives waiting for the “end of time” as most fanatics do, it is a call for us to remember God in all we do, a call for us to know that there will be an ultimate end to all created things, and a reminder that if after all our toils and troubles here on earth we lose heaven, we would have missed all. The second reading hits the nail right on its head. In it, Paul clearly differentiates true life – life lived in Christ, from life lived outside Christ. Without mincing words, he reminds us that we must be heaven bound where Christ is everything and everything is in him. For us to be heaven bound therefore, Paul admonishes us to, “kill everything in you that belongs to only earthly life, fornication, impurity, guilty passion, evil desires and especially greed…false god and never tell each other lie.”
According to Rev. Fr. Raymond Arazu, C.S.Sp there exist “Earth-Bound Souls.” These are simply people who have died and yet occasionally, people report about seeing them around drinking, eating or transacting the normal human businesses. This may sound like a fairy tale. But the fact is that there is more to life than we can ever imagine. The point here is that even though people like this have died, they are still strongly attached or fixated to the things of this world. They are in the astral plain, yet still grossly interested in the affairs of our physical world. Many of us Christians though baptized, and ought to be looking up to heaven, have vowed to be earth-bound Christians. We are so earth-bound that we hardly reflect about heaven any more. The pursuit of wealth and the pleasures of this world have so blinded us to the reality that we are sojourners on earth, and that our final destination is HEAVEN. We are so earth bound that we have lost interest and hope in the apocalyptic beatific vision: “They will see his face, and his name will be on their fore heads, there will be no more nights. They will not need the light of a lamp … for the Lord God will give them light, and they will reign forever and ever”(Rev 22, 4-5). What Paul advocates for here is a Christ-centered life; an earthly life that mirrors a heavenly life, a life well lived on earth that will qualify us for the heavenly banquet. I once saw a sticker posted at the rear of a rickety but still moving truck which reads: “I am heaven bound, what of you?” Obviously, this is a question we must answer by asking ourselves: “Am I heaven bound or….?
In the gospel, Jesus speaks to our hearts as he did to the man from the crowd: “Watch out and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man’s life is not made more secured by what he owns…” Avarice is among the seven capital sins. It is a sin which makes one become like the material goods one seeks. It is also a hidden enemy of every child of God. So, Jesus warns us that we must not hold on tenaciously to the riches of this world because, if we do, it will be to the detriment of our soul. This seems to be why the church states that: “The Lord grieves over the rich, because they find their consolation in the abundance of goods… Abandonment to the providence of the Father in heaven frees us from anxiety about tomorrow…” (CCC 2547). Concerning this same vice, Thomas Aquinas says: “Temporal goods are subject to man that he may use them according to his needs, not that he should make them his main purpose or be overly anxious about them” (STII-II 55, 6 ad 1). The implication of this is that the more we place our hopes on things of this world, the more we lose sight of heaven, and also, the more earth-bound we become. This is because, “where a man’s wealth is, there is his soul.” There is a saying that: “Real men love Jesus and not riches!” Indeed, real men and women are those who in spite of their fame, wealth, achievements, etcetera love Jesus above all things. They are heaven bound!
My dear friends and readers, exactly a year ago, precisely on the 4th of August, 2012, I was called and ordained into the priesthood of Jesus Christ according to the order of Melchizedek of old. Therefore, the readings of this 18th Sunday are providential, and speak to me personally, because through them, the church presents to me a golden opportunity to reflect on my entire life and vocation. This one year has been quiet challenging and also interesting, and I am proud to say like Paul: “Once I have found Christ, all those things that I might have considered as profit, I reckon as loss…” Yet, “I do not claim that I have already reached the goal, nor do I consider myself perfect, but I press on till I possess Christ Jesus, since I have been pursued by him” (Phil 3, 7 & 12). Please pray for me my dear ones, that I may be faithful to this call and never lose focus of our Ultimate Goal, HEAVEN!
be with you all!