Sunday, August 1, 2010

Brooding on Ecclesiastes

One of my kids told me that today's reading from the Old Testament was sort of depressing:
"Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!"

"Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill, and yet to another who has not labored over it, he must leave property. This also is vanity and a great misfortune. 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. This also is vanity."
(Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23)
I see her point. Quotes from Ecclesiastes don't seem to show up in those 'cheerful Bible verses' collections all that much.

Still, it's there in the Bible, between Proverbs and the Song of Songs. I can hardly write it off.

Dead Cows, an Incinerated Business, and Life

In today's homily, Father Statz recalled those verses from Ecclesiastes, and the story Jesus told in Luke 12:13-21. Father Statz also told of the time he'd been called to a farm one hot summer. When he arrived, the barn was on fire; and the farmer's wife, mother, and child were very upset: because their husband/son/father was in the barn, trying to get the cows out.

Long story made short, he got the cows out of the barn and wasn't killed in the process, but the cows had to be killed the next day. Smoke inhalation.

The farmer could have saved his family a lot of grief by realizing that cows, barns, and fresh alfalfa could - at least in principle - be replaced. His life? If he'd died in that barn, no matter how hard he tried he couldn't unkill himself.

Sometimes stories like that don't end quite so well. A welding shop in the Los Angeles area exploded and burned Friday afternoon. One man is dead: apparently because instead of simply running away from the building, he tried to move a truck away from the fire. Then he encountered a downed power line and was electrocuted. (City News, LA Weekly blogs (July 30, 2010))

Big Income, Big Car, Big House: And the Big Picture

I don't think it's too far off-base to take the last two verses of today's gospel reading as a sort of bottom line:
" '...But God said to him, "You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?" Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.' 7"
(Luke 12:21)
Money, I think, isn't the problem: avarice is. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2536)

Besides, that big car and the big house with a fancy address will last - what? A year? A decade? A century? In the case of the house: probably longer than I will.

In any case, things like that are temporary.

The smart move, as I see it, is to work with God and do what He's said is wise. One way or another, I'll be dealing with Him a lot longer than anything around here.

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.