Romans 16:3-9, 16, 22-27
The role of advertising frequently is about allowing shiny things to shine forth. In doing so these shiny things will begin to distract us from what we know to be important. If then we begin to pursue shiny things in life, we take our eyes off of the goal. Shiny things can frequently be material possessions, the latest trends or fads, the newest hit on the radio, the newest movie, or an upcoming sporting event. The goal of advertising is to make shiny things so attractive we begin to want and covet them. We have all been caught up in this phenomenon. The shiny things give us a certain amount of pleasure for a short period of time. But pursuing and acquiring shiny things doesn’t last.
Is this merely a result of our highly commercial oriented society? I don’t think so. There certainly were shiny things way before the industrial revolution. We have been warned about this even as far back as the New Testament. Today, as we conclude Paul’s letter to the Romans in the liturgical cycle, we hear Paul listing all of the people who are important to him. He sends greetings to them. It was customary in those days to include greeting toward the end of the letter, whereas we usually put it closer to the beginning. When naming names in letters, we tend to include those people to whom we are closest, not necessarily every single person we know. We see here Paul names those people he is closest to. Why are friends important? Quite simply, good quality friends are a lasting treasure. Quality relationships outlast material possessions and consumer items. Moreover, we find greater meaning and fulfillment in our lives through such lasting treasures.
Jesus reminds us in Luke’s gospel to continue to make friends for yourselves so we may become more trustworthy with eternal treasures. Of course not all people believe this is true, or at least believe it enough to live their life according to such teaching. Jesus himself received opposition immediately from the Pharisees who sneered at him.
As I ponder some of this eternal treasure, I’m asking myself what else besides friendship is eternal? And while I’m not really sure what those things are that we take with us into the next world, I do know of several things which no one else can take away. I think about how education can shape a person for their entire life. Some people have a particular trade or skill or talent which is inherent to who they are. This skill can never be taken away. The love we have for family and our children and grandchildren can never be taken away either. And for Paul, even while he is in prison, he has a certain peace in his heart. He is very clear that no one can take this away from him. I need to add to this list, Christ’s command to be people of service to one another out of love. That command can never be taken away. I’m sure you can add to this list.
As we have moved through these days of praying with saints and honoring souls, may our investments be enriched by choosing truths that are eternal.
Fr. David Colhour, C.P. is the pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Louisville, Kentucky.