James reminds us of a fact we easily forget: we are “a vapor that appears briefly and vanishes.” How quickly we fall from nothing to nothing and how all of our projects keep us from giving that reality a thought.
Yet death is something we should think about, pray about often. We do not know the circumstances of that event, but we know it is coming and it is coming faster than we think.
It is certainly not reprehensible to have projects, business ventures and plans for the future. What’s wrong is to forget God and our fragility in mapping out what our duties and our ambition call to do.
James’ lesion here can be a commentary on the parable Jesus gives in St. Luke’s Gospel 12: 18-20. I will prayerfully reflect upon it in the light of the Responsorial Psalm in today’s Mass, which speaks of “wicked ensnarers [that] ring me around.” How do they do this? They cause me “to trust in their wealth, the abundance of their riches [which] is their boast.”