Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
This hoard of yours, whose will it be?
The Word This Week
Today we contemplate a great truth about our life: you cant take it with you. The old phrase There are no pockets in a shroud is what we confront today, in the preaching of both Ecclesiastes and the Lord Jesus. What Jesus makes us think about, however, is not just this truth, but the consequences of it: if we are not to build up treasure here on earth, what are we to do? The answer is simple: by our way of living we make ourselves rich in the sight of God!
Notes for Readers
What an opening line! What a challenge for the reader, and what a challenge for congregation who listen! The first lines of the first reading can often be lost in the shuffle of sitting down after the opening prayer. You should always take your time - settling yourself at the lectern before beginning. Announce the reading clearly, and then pause before the reading starts - this way the Word of God will have its full impact, because you will wait until the Church is still - even if this seems an unbearably long time! Let this first (and most famous) line of Ecclesiastes resound through the Church. Then launch into the specific example of vanity the preacher offers us: we labour for years, and what is the reward ? Nothing. Use the rhetorical questions - leaving a pause for the congregation to fit in the answer. Given the way the preacher phrases the question, a tone of slight indignation at the injustice of it all might not be out of place. But remember that the preachers answer, even to the apparent injustice, is simply this: this, too, is vanity.
Last week Paul simply stated the truth that we have died with Christ and have risen with him. This week he goes on to explain what this means for our everyday life. First, our thoughts must be on heavenly things. What this means in practice is giving up all the earthly things - all the obvious sins. Dont be afraid of reading this list with a certain passion and conviction, since thats how Paul writes. He then goes on to explain that even the distinctions we make between ourselves have no place in this heavenly way of life - use the very emphatic phrase There is only Christ with all its power to underline this. The final words should be slow, steady and full of conviction.