Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Is All Vanity?


“Vanity of vanities! Everything is vanity!” and “Take care to guard against all greed…for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

The sentences from this Sunday’s reading are a prophetic voice to the 1% who own the world’s wealth. It’s no secret that money has power and power comes from money. Some of the wealthiest oligarchs reside in the wealthiest empire nation in the world, the United States. These oligarchs, along with techno feudal lords, are reshaping the global economy and the future of the planet.

In an article by Elizabeth Dwoskin in The Washington Post, she outlines the plans of billionaire investor Peter Thiel, Facebook’s longest-serving board member, who quit the social media giant, disbanding one of Silicon Valley’s most powerful partnerships. Why? Because he seeks to create a shadow economy fueled by the far right and their political candidates to whom he has contributed millions of dollars to ensure successful campaigns and winning elections, past and present. Beneficiaries include politicians Donald Trump, Josh Hawley, Blake Masters, JD Vance and Ted Cruz, among others.

Thiel aims to transform American culture through “anti-revival” business ventures that pressure CEOs to shun environmental, social and political causes. It does not support socially responsible investing, curtailing oil production to meet environmental goals, or anything that will hurt “profitability”. He promotes the controversial cryptocurrency.

Compounding this situation is the legal politics of Knights of Malta member Leonard Leo, former executive vice president of the Federalist Society and member of the board of trustees of the Catholic University of America. In an article by Coral Davenport for The New York Times, she explains how Leo’s influence, along with powerful donors like the Koch brothers, helped secure the nomination and confirmation of five Supreme Court justices: John Roberts, Samuel Alito Jr., Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

The decision on deer v. Wadethe decision to severely limit the federal government’s power to reduce carbon dioxide from power plants, and Thiel’s successful “investments” attest to the assertion that money has power and power comes from money. ‘silver.

This Sunday’s readings are a clarion call to realize that all endeavors rooted in self-glorification and enrichment are nothing more than “vanity of vanities”, steeped in political and economic greed that has funded people to powerful positions that create and support new forms of ideology and idolatry, often supported by untruths.

For a country that professes “one nation under God” in its oath of allegiance, how far are many of the nation’s oligarchs and leaders from the spirit, the Divine, instead embodying a belief in an imperial deity and hegemonic as described by male biblical writers and now embraced by many evangelical Christian and Catholic fundamentalists.

Paul’s letter to the Colossians indicates that he too faced many of the same issues facing people of conscience today. People then and today continue to struggle with and despise diversity, especially within the institutional Roman Catholic Church, which at times cannot wholeheartedly accept that Christ is all in all.

Racism, sexism and homophobia continue to fuel laws that divide rather than unite. Paul reminds us that “here there is no Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free”, homosexual, heterosexual, rich , poor, black, white, native, male, female, only Christ, only the divine in everything. Paul’s message to the Colossians is more relevant than ever.

For two-thirds of the world’s population living in poverty, with many poor people living in “the land of plenty”, today’s Gospel offers a word of hope. The Lucanian parable highlights the folly of selfishly hoarding riches that cannot guarantee life, which, as the reading of Ecclesiastes and the responsorial psalm remind us, is short and over which humans have no control. end. What matters in life is having a generous and open heart, a characteristic that many disenfranchised people already possess.

Finally, if the Gospel of Luke is read from the perspective of the excluded and marginalized, then this parable presents a moving challenge to all who profess to be Christians, and especially to those who are Christian-Catholics with social teaching Catholic as part of their tradition. The challenge is to demolish the “barns” of all those who greedily accumulate more and more power and wealth at the expense of the world’s most vulnerable, human and non-human, whose lives and countries’ resources and habitats are being exploited to repeatedly, leaving species and a devastated planet.

The world is in turmoil, experiencing seismic changes. But as long as people of conscience breathe, hunger, and commit to transformative justice, hope remains alive, negating the claim that “all is vanity.”

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