Words of Jesus to St. Faustina as shared in her Diary, par. 320
The first words of the first reading sets a reverberating tone for all the readings so it is appropriate to begin with a definition of the word, vanity. It means, too much pride in one’s looks, ability, accomplishments, etc; or a lack of real value. It comes from the Latin, vanitas or vanus, meaning empty.
How appropriate, then, are Paul’s words, Seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God… put to death the parts of you that are earthly. It sounds like Paul was well aware of the emptiness of vanity and Jesus repeats the identical theme with His parable of a rich man who stores up comfort for his future—a future that would soon be outlived by the very comfort he was planning to build. For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart?
In the psalm response, we hear, again, the admonition against a hardness of heart. It is a well-worn rebuke but it is a most appropriate metaphor for the warnings in all of today’s readings. Hardness implies a protective shell for that which is within. Not only does it seal tight within its precious contents but also discourages any dispersing or sharing of them. In other words, it is totally closed off to that which is outside. Only by breaking the hard shell does someone gain access to its interior and many times God has to allow or perform such a breakthrough moment in our lives so that our heart can receive and be filled with the true fulfilling richness He has to offer.
Jesus gave us Sacraments, which use worldly realities, to help penetrate the hardness. We can feel the water of Baptism, taste the bread and wine of the Eucharist, hear the words of Forgiveness, smell the Oil of Confirmation and, behind these symbolic realities, we can then perceive the invisible Divine Reality and, with open hearts, allow Him to fill us with His kindness.