One of the main occupations of our human life has to do with filling up what is empty. We equate happiness with an experience of fullness. Many different areas of our lives need filling: our stomachs, our schedules, the gas tank of our car, our bank accounts, our hearts, our minds, our hopes, etc. The word “vanity” could be a synonym for emptiness. The difference is that what is vain often seems to be worthwhile at one level – we experience some degree of satisfaction – but it leaves us empty. Eating will satisfy a hunger for food, but eating will not fill the other areas of my heart that experience emptiness. That’s the foolishness of the man who has stockpiled food in today’s Gospel. As important as it is to fill your stomach every day, a full stomach is not the same as a full life. Imagining that you don’t have to worry about tomorrow anymore because you have an unlimited supply of resources is an illusion. Tomorrow isn’t just twenty-four hours from now, the real tomorrow is eternity. Any pursuit that tries to manage tomorrow as though it were disconnected from eternity is vain – empty. Any reliance on the situations and things of this world is vain because they will not follow in the next.
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
He [the Lord] teaches that the man going down was the neighbor of no one except of him who wanted to keep the commandments and prepare himself to be a neighbor to every one that needs help. This is what is found after the end of the parable, “Which of these three does it seem to you is the neighbor of the man who fell among robbers?” Neither the priest nor the Levite was his neighbor, but—as the teacher of the law himself answered—“he who showed pity” was his neighbor. The Savior says, “Go, and do likewise.”