Many of the great art collections of the world were compiled by individuals who wanted to create private collections for their own enjoyment. Many times, these collections were never seen by the general public unless a collection of works were loaned to a museum. These collections were a source of pride to those who compiled them. They testified to the vast wealth of the individuals who built up these priceless collections.  An art collection, whether public or private, is the patrimony of all society and does not simply speak of the wealth of the individuals who put them together but rather to the great talent and giftedness of all humanity. That is the great wealth of humanity; its talent is its treasure. 

Today we are asked to seek the treasure which is eternal in heaven. The first reading speaks to this precept. Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:21-23 tells us about a sage named Qoheleth who seems to be disillusioned by a society that is vain and superficial. “Vanity of Vanities! All things are vanity!” If the rich and foolish experience the same fate as the hardworking laborer, what purpose is life? The disillusioned sage does not answer that question for us in this passage but the Gospel from Luke 12:13-21 does with the Parable of the Rich Fool. 

Jesus was approached by someone in the crowd who wanted him to referee a dispute with his brother over money. As is often the case with Jesus, when he is presented with such requests, he uses it as a teaching moment. Jesus presents the Parable of the Rich Fool.  He begins with a warning to the crowd to guard against greed. The same warning Qoheleth was giving in Ecclesiastes: vanity of vanities, all is vanity! Greed is vanity. The more we accumulate, the more we want because what we have does not satisfy and so we think if we have more, we will be satisfied. 

Jesus tells us that is just foolishness. The Rich Fool thought if he could only store up his wealth, he would have security. “And he said, this is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, now as for you, you have many goods stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”  

This statement on the part of the rich fool is pure vanity. Because as Psalm 90 reminds us, we all turn to dust. “You turn man back to dust, saying, return O Children of men for a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday.” 

As Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3 tells us, there is a time and season for all things, and all things ultimately pass away. But if we belong to God, we will be blessed by the grace of God. “Fill us at daybreak with your kindness, that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days. And may the gracious care of the Lord our God be ours.” (Psalm 90:14,17) 

People seek security and the desire to obtain security leads us to compile great wealth and goods in our lives, but St. Paul tells us in the second reading that we should be working for those things that endure. “If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11) Paul reminds us that we belong to Christ for we died in Baptism. The wealth we compile is eternal in heaven not of the earth. He goes on to tell us to put to death that which is of the Earth and put on new life. Jesus is our priceless treasure for he is our new life.