Open our lips, O Lord,and we shall declare your praise.Give us the joy of your saving help,and sustain us with your life-giving Spirit. Amen.
We all want to be happy, but what really makes us happy? What really makes life fulfilling? What can we do to live a healthier, happier, more fulfilling life where we feel loved and make meaningful contributions to the world around us? These questions have particular importance for us Childlovers. If what we are doing in life is bringing us little contentment (let's be honest) what else should we be doing so that when we come to die, we don't feel like we had not lived? What can we do to escape living a vain life in vain pursuit of vain things?
Readings and Homily:
"Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities!All things are vanity!
This also is vanity and a great misfortune.For what profit comes to man fromall the toil and anxiety of heartwith which he has labored under the sun?All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation;even at night his mind is not at rest.This also is vanity." ECC 1:2; 2:21-23
How often is the question asked: "Why am I a pedophile? Am I really a pedophile so I can sit around and do what the news says pedophiles do all the days of my life? Or am I a pedophile so that I can go be something greater than that?" What we do with our life matters, and one shouldn't even have to be a Christian to recognize that. Why does it matter? Because we all want to live a fruitful, happy, and productive life while we're alive, but not everything we do enables us to do that. Often it's those things that appear on the surface to be pleasing to us that actually keep us from being happy (pornography for instance, or maybe just life on the internet), particularly when we put those things ahead of what can really make us happy. Can amassing a giant archive of pictures from the internet make us happy? Maybe some of us think it can, but can those pictures love us back?
The quotation above from the book of Ecclesiastes may sound like a depressing statement: "All is vanity," as in, "all is meaningless, fleeting, or worthless." We work hard and profit much in the way of worldly things and experience all bodily pleasures, and then we die. We sloth around and profit little in the way of worldly things and pleasures, and we still die. How can this sad reality possibly affirm us? Because this passage is actually asking us a question: what do we want our legacy to be when we die? For if what we live for in this world profits us nothing when we die, what can we (as Childlovers) live for that can truly outlive us? And outlive us in the sense that it actually makes a meaningful and positive impact on the world? It turns out, someone else asked us this same question:
"Then Jesus told them a parable: "There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ 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 so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.” LK 12:13-21
This parable teaches specifically about richness in the sense of material goods, but we as Childlovers can understand the idea of richness and poverty to be more of spirit as well. What brings about a richness in one's life, especially a lifetime spent working for material gain or, for instance, one spent collecting pictures online? We may, like the rich man, even pride ourselves on how many material things (pictures) we can "store up in our barns" and then sit back and say to ourselves "We have so many good things! Let us be merry!" But how good can a thing be if it can profit nobody anything, much less ourselves should we pass away this instant? Remember, the rich man in this parable was only thinking about himself and his own happiness. He never considered that even though his grains were in abundance, there were most likely people starving all around him, and he never once considered that instead of storing things up for himself that he might've given away his earthly treasure, even bit by bit, to those in need, and then when he came to die, actually have something in his life to profit the world around him with.
How often are we Childlovers only concerned with our own pleasures and contentments (whether they be sinful or not)? Maybe we spend our time on earth storing up in our "barns" these massive photography collections, or maybe we just spend too much time online (I can admit to that!), and yet how many of us feel unworthy, unloved, or like all people ever do is hate and fear us? We may start to really feel like all is hopeless, but it isn't! Maybe they hate and fear us because we're not doing enough to give them reason to love and cherish us? Maybe we need to stop collecting the questionable images, or maybe we just need to get off the internet forums for a change, and instead roll up our sleeves and go out there and support children's causes, children's charities, or even just take time to mentor these children we profess to "love" so much. We know in our hearts that doing this is by far the more fulfilling path of life and the greater legacy to leave. We know that if we do this and were to die this very moment, that since we are profitted by our life only so much as we used it to profit others, that we would be living a blessed life and would depart with a good conscience, saying to ourselves "I did not live in vain."
Live life in the spirit. If there is anything material or temporal (pornography for instance, or maybe just too much internet use) in our life that we place above the love of neighbor (which is the same as the love of God), then we are idolators. And since we know that idolatry profits us nothing, nor does it benefit the world around us in any way, if we be idolators, our lives will be empty and we will be found at the moment of our deaths with nothing to show for our short time on earth except vain collections of things that didn't benefit anybody anything. If we die instead with some spiritual fruits to show for the life we lived, in the charity and love we showed to others (especially to children if we are Childlovers) outlasting our material bodies, then we will know we have been truly blessed to have lived.
"Brothers and sisters: If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory...
Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry." COL 3:1-5, 9
Regard all children as God's children. Peace be with you.
God our Father,we pray that the message of your Sonwill dwell richly among us,as we teach and admonish one anotherwith the wisdom you give,and sing with thankfulness in our hearts to you.And whatever we do, in word or deed,may it be done in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ,and for his glory. Amen.
Go in peace and love children as the Lord loves them.