Today’s first reading tells us, “Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” This deep-seated wisdom reminds us that in the end, all our earthly work and labor, all our plans, all our wealth is basically worthless and insignificant. While we think that these things are worthy of merit, all they actually do is consume our time and thoughts creating anxiety and unrest. True happiness and peace can never be attained through vain pursuits. As St. Augustine tells us, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” In this light, we can attempt to understand the story of the rich man in today’s Gospel reading.

The story is not about the man’s wealth, but the fact that he devotes all his time, money and resources to safeguarding his material welfare at the expense of ignoring his spiritual well-being. The rich man doesn’t maintain a healthy balance between worldly and heavenly interests. The parable contains many of what I call “Me-isms”. We hear, the words “I shall” five times. This tells us that the rich man was self-centered, relying only upon himself for his interests and pursuits. His possessions consumed him and because of this, they became the only source of his happiness and comfort.

Jesus isn’t critical of the man’s wealth, but rather, how the man chose to deal with his good fortune. The man’s security was founded only in his possessions and because of this, he sought to sustain them at any expense. There was nothing wrong with the barn he had other than it was too small, so he goes through the time and expense to make it even bigger. The man devotes no time to build his spiritual house in heaven. Jesus reminds us that all our possessions on earth will eventually become someone else’s, so why spend all our time and thought on material things while ignoring the more important thing which is our salvation and entrance into heaven.

On earth, we are all pilgrims on a common journey to heaven. Today’s readings force us to examine the condition of our spiritual house in heaven. How much time have we devoted to its construction and development?

Deacon Bob