Obviously, the theme of the readings for this Sunday is putting God above all in our lives.
In the first reading from Ecclesiastes, the word vanity (or a form of the word) is used seven times. This is probably not a coincidence. In the bible, the number seven represents perfection – or in this case totality. In my curiosity, I went to the Webster’s dictionary on my computer for an official definition of vanity – to see if there was, perhaps, more meaning hidden behind what I already knew about the word:
Vanity (in religion)” is considered a form of self-idolatry, in which one likens their self to the greatness of God for the sake of their own image, and thereby becomes separated and perhaps in time divorced from the Divine grace of God. In Christian teachings vanity is considered an example of pride, one of the seven deadly sins.”
When I read these words from Ecclesiates, “For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which he has labored under the sun? All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation; even at night his mind is not at rest,” I couldn’t help but think of the uncertainty my husband has faced with his job these past few months – and our concern over whether or not Eric would get a paycheck. I thought of the times that I’ve let my own work get to me – times when I’ve allowed it to make me anxious – the times we’ve both awakened during the night, and our minds have started racing with worries over work.
We must remember that it’s not us! IT’S NOT US! GOD provides the paycheck. He is our supply – not our bosses. We must do our work for love of Him. We bring our gifts and talents (which He has blessed us with) to our places of employment. If we allow Him to do so, He will use us and work through us. We must put all pride aside, and humbly work FOR HIM. In doing so, we are released from the bonds of worry and fear that often accompany the wonderful world of employment!
In the second reading from Colossians, and in the gospel, the theme is really hit home. Paul repeats, “Seek what is above… think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” Jesus says, “though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” I have found throughout my life that truly when one tries hard to put God first – above all people and things in life – God provides generously and faithfully. We don’t need to worry about what we will eat, drive, wear, or where we will live. He takes care of all of that! Do we remember to rise each morning and thank Him for providing for all of our needs? Do we honor Him by trusting that He will provide for our needs tomorrow, or do we fret over that? Think of how spiritually rich we would be if we spent half as much time “storing up heavenly treasure” as we do working to store up money and possessions. Hmmm.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned with age, it is that life passes so quickly. The older I get, the faster it seems to go! Once we finish our journey here on earth, we are no longer able to gain any merit for ourselves – any graces. We must store up those heavenly things NOW while we still have the opportunity. This is why it is important to pray for the poor souls in purgatory. They have been saved, and are assured of heaven, however, they cannot pray their way out of purgatory. They cannot speed their time of purification. Time for gaining grace ends with our death. The souls there depend on our prayers to speed and ease their time in exile, until they are brought to live with God in heaven.
Remember, when you go back to work on Monday – be it out in the world – or in the home: Do everything you do for the glory of God. Set your mind on Him and on the things of heaven, and He will take care of the rest!