What are we working for? What is the end goal of our labors? Are we working to build up the Kingdom of God or our own little kingdom here on earth? Put more bluntly: are we possessed by our possessions? This is the question addressed by our readings this Sunday.
We can work for all kinds of vain ends here on earth: fame, fortune, or a false sense of security and personal control. Deep down we know that everything is in God’s hands, and we can lose everything in the blink of an eye. We could all find ourselves answering to God like the rich man in the Gospel. What would we respond to God’s challenge: “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” We want to be safe and secure, but we cannot control everything; we will never be truly in control of our own fate. So why do we pretend otherwise?
“One’s life does not consist of possessions.” This wise proverb from Jesus can be applied to material possessions, or even positions of authority or prestige. We may currently possess popular favor or acclaim, but this can pass in a moment. Focusing too much on earthly things can lead us to worry more and more, as these earthly consolations fade and fail us. The things of this world do not have the durability and dependability of the things of heaven.
So, what should we work for? We can go back to the Our Father for some clues. We can invest ourselves in spreading the glory of God’s name and building up the Kingdom of God. We can work to grow in virtues, those true strengths of the soul that help us endure suffering and persevere in doing good works. We can, in the words of Saint Paul, “Put to death, then, the parts of [ourselves] that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.” Our earthly time can be best spent in serving God well, in growing in personal virtue, and in works of mercy. In doing so, we put our earthly riches to good use and build up treasures in heaven. This is how we build up treasure that will last—by seeking “what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”