Thursday, January 03, 2013

A Thought

“There is a man whose labor is with wisdom, knowledge, and skill; yet he must leave his heritage to a man who has not labored for it.  This also is vanity and a great evil.”  Ecclesiastes 2:21

Clearly the writer is lamenting the reality that nothing we do or earn or acquire in this life can be taken with us once our time on this earth is done, but there are two points to be taken from this passage.  One is to remember that the mad dash to accumulate riches for ourselves on this earth will ultimately be for nothing.  These are not the “treasures” Jesus tells us to worry about, for these are the treasures which can rot or rust or be taken from us.  These treasures are no treasure at all but can, in fact, more closely resemble shackles!

The second thing to remember is Divine Grace evident in this passage, for our Holy Father does not love us for what we do; He loves us for who we are.  This is not to say we discount the value of work, whether we are working in the labor of our Christian witness to build up Christ’s Holy Church or working to make our daily bread.  Both are important, both have value, and both are means to an end and not the end themselves. 

Consider the work of the servants in Jesus’ parable of the talents (Mt 25).  The servants had important work to do, but the work was not simply for its own sake.  The servants were entrusted with the “talents” necessary to gain profitable return for the master while he was away.  Those who worked diligently and made significant gains for the master were rewarded for their good works.  More importantly, however, was the work done in preparation for the greater work to be done later.  It is not unlike “working our way to the top” by our willingness to do the “grunt work” and do it well.  No one begins as CEO of a corporation; the work, the training, the education had to be done to prove one’s worth and ability to serve in that top position. 

Jesus points out in the parable that there is something even greater to be entrusted with once our Master returns and judges our labors.  Did we prove to Him that we can be trusted with all He has given for our use?  Have we proved to Him that we earnestly want to be with Him and continue working for Him in the life to come?  Can we be trusted with even greater riches for His sake? 

The “vanity” spoken of in Ecclesiastes is that vanity by which we only focus on our personal gain; this includes that religious notion of “personal salvation” by which so many mistakenly believe they have been relieved of any need to “work” for our Lord and build up His Church.  Anything we do strictly for personal gain is “vanity and a great evil”.

The people of the Lord have been given priceless treasure to nourish us and our “neighbors” on our pilgrimage to the Promised Land.  Our gain is that which prepares us for the next day’s journey, for we are Kingdom People; and the Kingdom is where we are headed.  It is the Kingdom of Heaven for which we are being prepared.


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