Philip Arthur Fisher was an American stock investor best known as the author of Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits, a guide to investing that has remained in print ever since it was first published in 1958. He says, “The stock market is filled with individuals who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing."
This weekend's reading talks about spiritual investment. In the first reading from the book of Ecclesiastes, the voice of the narrator (Qoheleth) talks about “Vanity.” Qoheleth means one who gathers or preacher. The author identifies himself as the “Son of David, king of Jerusalem,” so the scriptural scholars say the author is Solomon.
Solomon sets out to pursue three common human goals, three pursuits to which many people devote their entire lives: 1. Pleasure or joy which we see in Ecclesiastes 2:1 “Come, now, let me try you with pleasure and the enjoyment of good things.” See, this too was vanity. 2. Wisdom which we read in 2:12-17 “What about one who succeeds a king? He can do only what has already been done. I went on to the consideration of wisdom, madness, and folly… Therefore, I detested life, since for me the work that is done under the sun is bad; for all is vanity and a chase after wind.” 3. Toil or labor for possessions which we read in 2:18-26 “I detested all the fruits of my toil under the sun because I must leave them to the one who is to come after me… For to the one who pleases God, he gives wisdom and knowledge and joy; but to the one who displeases, God gives the task of gathering possessions for the one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a chase after wind.”
Fr. Bloom reported from Krakow, 2016 World youth day. He says, Pope Francis is a big soccer fan and when he mentioned the sport, young people cheered. When he referred to the World Cup, it brought even louder cheers. Then he paused, looked at the sea of youth, and said, "Jesus is a greater prize than the World Cup!" Young people stood, raised their hands, and gave a sustained cheer.
Jesus is the one great prize. That's what we see in today's readings. In comparison to Jesus, everything in this world is vanity. Only Jesus has ultimate worth - and only in him does anything have value. The Ecclesiastes says, “Vanity of vanities,” “All is vanity.”
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us the parable of the rich fool. This parable teaches that life centered on greedy ambition and satisfaction is empty of meaning. The fool is oblivious that his life will end, together with all his accumulated material possessions. Rich says “…so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry” (Luke 12:19). In the book of Sirach 11:19 says, “When they say: “I have found rest, now I will feast on my goods,” They do not know how long it will be till they die and leave them to others.”
Jesus is not disregarding his skills and ability to acquire wealth, but rather his selfishness. Jesus was called the rich fool because he lost his aptitude to invest wisely. His life was consumed with his possessions and his only interests were in himself. Jesus is not talking against wealth or rich, but he is talking about the use of it. A fruitful life involves charity towards others and detachment from material goods.
Our ultimate goal in life is to be eternally happy, not temporarily happy. Without God all life is meaningless. But with God, every aspect of our lives proclaims the reason for our creation: to know him, to love him, to serve him. He is our true treasure.