Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 31, 2022

Sister Rose Ann Barmann, OSB shares a reflection on the scripture readings: Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:21-23; Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11; Luke 12:13-21

“If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts” is the responsorial Psalm refrain connecting our Scriptural Readings for this eighteenth Sunday. 

Our Sacred Scriptures from the Book of Ecclesiastes Chapters 1 & 2: “For what profit comes to a person from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which a person has labored under the sun?” St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians admonishes us: “Think of what is above, not the possessions that you have on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” And in the Gospel from St. Luke, the evangelist does not sugar- coat the Gospel’s challenge: “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have labored over, to whom will they belong?” Jesus is calling us and challenges us as His disciples to examine what we treasure, what we cherish, and what we hold dear and priceless above all other things.   

Our Scriptures for this eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time are a warning against becoming too attached to worldly goods and temporary pleasures. We are made in the image and likeness of the Holy One, we are fashioned in the Divine Image, we are of God. We are made for eternity. We will live forever with God and with all those we love here on this planet.   

It makes no sense to accumulate and hoard material things, for one day we will die, leaving the material things of our addiction for someone else to dispose of. As disciples of and followers of Jesus, he calls us to only accumulate love and the ability to share. He calls us to live mindfully and not to be indifferent when faced with the needs of others, especially the poor. In our past Benet Hill vision statement, we center our work on the needs of those made others; ‘Reverencing all creation, we will be radical signs of God’s love and compassion and use our resources in service will all God’s people especially the poor and oppressed.’

Reflecting on these texts, Bishop Robert Barron says, “all three of our scriptures for this weekend speak of an essential spiritual truth—that is to say, the need to detach oneself from the goods of this world. This has nothing to do with hatred of this world or of matter of the flesh; all that sort of dualism is contrary to the message of Jesus.” It has to do with “wearing lightly and walking lightly” in this world with its goods, even as those goods are acknowledged and celebrated. “We are called to, “Live Simply So Others May Simply Live,” as Gandhi from the Natural Living School taught his followers. As disciples of Jesus, we live the Beatitudes, “Blest are the Poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God” (Barron, wordonfire.org).

For some reason the desire for more and more material things seems to be imprinted in our nature. Just like Adam and Eve, we are grasping, reaching out for more. We are not satisfied with what God has provided for us. But accumulating and hoarding material goods cannot be the purpose of life for a Christian. 

Putting energy into wealth, power, and social standing distracts us from our Christian mission of serving God and spreading the Good News. While material things are not necessarily bad, letting them become “gods” is idolatry. Only the one true God can really bring us lasting peace. Any happiness derived from these worldly pursuits is transitory.

Our treasures are in the Divine Presence as we are lavished with the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Fear of the Lord, and Piety.  When we pursue these gifts and values, then we have put on our Lord’s message and we are on the way as true followers of Jesus.

Tune in to God this week and listen for what our Holy One wants to personally to tell you.  Listen with the Ear of your Heart.


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